How I pick teams to support.

Leaving aside tedious things like technical merit, I have to have more than one way of picking which teams to support, for reasons that will become clear as I work my way through the teams that I have been known to or will support.

First criterion: I'm from there. Scotland, land of my birth, is prone to qualifying at most 2/3 of the time. Guaranteed to crash out after the first round, thereby meaning that I must have more selection criteria.

Second criterion: I've lived there. This is the category that gets in the Netherlands and to a lesser extent the United States. I'm not at all hostile to the US team, but I can't get on board fully. I am happy to see the US do well because it irritates other countries to no end (see fourth criterion, xenophobia)

Third Criterion: technical merit. This tournament's choice may be the Czech Republic. Most people would have Brazil here as their second team based on some kind of carnival / hot women in tiny bikinis / capiriniha / flashy ball skills. Much as Brazil can be talented, and much as I enjoy Ronaldinho wrestling with good versus flashy, I don't really support the Brazilians. They don't need the help, and my Calvinist instincts are too appalled by all those people enjoying themselves.

Fourth Criterion: Xenophobia. I cannot in all seriousness support England or Wales, unless of course England is playing Germany, in which case I remain neutral and poised to enjoy the fact that one team is going to lose… I also can't abide diving Argentinians, especially since they're too talented to even need it, or whinging Spaniards. (They don't like me either.) I will also support teams playing against the ones I don't like.

Fifth Criterion: the War. Could be classed as 4a; so this means supporting whoever is playing the Germans, unless it's the Poles. The Poles are tough to work out: there were many brave free Poles in the UK and fighting the Germans; many of the Free Polish officers based in Scotland could claim to have poked my great-aunt E, so family legend goes, but the ones who were left behind consoled themselves by murdering Jews freelance for the Nazis… and while Solidarinosc went some way, they're not off my shit list yet. Historical reduction for time served is tough though; at what point, if at all, do the Croats cease to be fascist Chetniks who are bad for murdering Serbs and become fascist Chetniks who are resisting Serbian aggression?

Sixth criterion: anti-colonialism. Thus, Angola over Portugal, Trinidad and Tobago over England (even before applying criterion four), etc.

Seventh and final criterion: irrational emotion. I appreciate the fact that the various Balkan teams look like their training routine consists of a strong cup of coffee and a few unfiltered Camels consumed while deciding not to shave, for instance. I'm supporting Angola also because of the country study course I took at USC, and because the phrase lusotropicalism (thanks, Professor Bender) is too good to pass up.

So I think that puts Holland in first with an emerging tie for the US, Angola, and Trinidad and Tobago.


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