NZME's award winning* football blog Goalmouth Scramble is back. Our rotating stable of football writers will offer daily hot takes on all the action from the World Cup in Russia. Today, Damien Venuto looks at why the world might want England to lose tomorrow ...
In the politically charged 2011 song LatinoAmerica, the Latin hip-hop group Calle 13 raps cutting line after line on what it means to identify as Latin American in the shadow of centuries of subjugation.
It's a song that doesn't take long to get to the point, starting with the lines: "I am/I am what they left behind/I am the leftovers of what they've stolen/A hidden town in the summit/My skin is of leather that's why it withstands any weather."
Posited among the many poignant lines, there's one that almost seems incongruent with the rest of the song. With the song building momentum to its first haunting chorus, rapper René Pérez Joglar punches home the line: "I'm Maradona against England scoring two goals."
Joglar isn't Argentinean. In fact, he isn't even South American, hailing instead from the US protectorate of Puerto Rico. But as his song reminds us, the Latin American experience transcends any borders the people may have inherited.
In this context, Maradona's two goals are framed as a political act of the little guy taking on the empire and winning – partly through skill and partly through the hand of God.
While the nations that comprise Latin America have long since won their independence from their colonisers, the United Kingdom continues to be viewed as a colonial force in that part of the world through its occupation of the Malvinas (known as the Falklands in the English-speaking world). This isn't lost in a region where the strong anti-colonial messages of Che Guevara still echo through politics and conversations at dinner.
This brings us to the last-16 World Cup matchup between Colombia and England. While the rivalries within Latin America are undoubtedly strong, there won't be many in the region cheering on a former coloniser to defeat one that is a former colony.
This doesn't only apply to Latin America. Strong anti-colonial sentiment in Africa, which has seen statues symbolic of British imperialism toppled, will likely also pull African fans toward Colombia. Colonialisation may have ended in both Africa and Latin America, but the shared wounds of this experience provide a strong bond between the regions.
Closer to home, the English are also unlikely to find support from its neighbours, with the Scottish and the Irish, in particular, often repeating the phrase "anyone but England". Proximity doesn't do much to erase the memories of the past.
Colombia also has the fact that it's an underdog on its side. Speaking on the Game of Our Lives podcast, India-based journalist Supriya Nair said that the former colony where she lives has long been wedded to "Third World success".
"The South American teams were always big on our radar. Our hearts beat for Pele and Zico, and Gabriel Batistuta and, I have to admit, Maradona," she told host David Goldblatt.
Nair did, however, add that younger fans in the country were starting to support England due to the growing popularity of the English Premier League – which is a little ironic given the league consists of 75 per cent foreign players.
Another factor that could work in England's favour is that this is the most likeable English team in recent history, with the personnel made up of humble players and an adept coach. But it's difficult to escape history – even if you weren't directly involved in it.
Setting aside the politics and the history, football is a strange game and the number of fans strewn across the world is largely irrelevant once the whistle is blown for kickoff.
That said, if there's one thing a Colombian victory would be good for, it's the party. In another popular Latin song called La Gozadera, the band Gente de Zona sing about people from all over Latin America coming together to have a massive party. If Colombia were to pull off an upset against England tomorrow, you can rest assured La Gozadera would become a reality across the world. And if there's one thing neutral fans love more than a great football match, it's a good party.
*Goalmouth Scramble's "award" was more of an inter-company acknowledgement in an email from 2012.
Previously, on Goalmouth Scramble:
Steven Holloway: 10 thoughts on the World Cup, and why Neymar is a d**k
Damien Venuto: The villains of the World Cup
Joel Kulasingham: The 11 All Blacks who would dominate* the FIFA World Cup
Chris Rattue: Bring on the penalty shootouts
Niall Anderson: So, uh, which of these World Cup teams are actually good?
Steven Holloway: Funbag: Messi and World Cup conspiracy theories
Michael Burgess: Why I'm missing Sepp Blatter
Cam McMillan: The far too early second round projections
David Leggat: A few things you need to know about the World Cup
Damien Venuto: Messi - The Argentinean Andrew Mehrtens?
Cam McMillan: Why Brazil will (and won't) win the World Cup
Niall Anderson: The best (and worst) games to watch
Chris Rattue: Funny footballs and goalkeepers
Chris Rattue: The big World Cup questions
Steven Holloway: Fancy a punt? The World Cup's best bets