During any kind of sporting event that involves countries competing against each other it is inevitable that expats everywhere will be asked the same question. It does not matter which country they are from and which country they find themselves in, the question from the locals is always the same; “Which country are you supporting?”
This may seem like a simple question at first with an equally simple answer; your own country (or another one you really like). However, this is a beginner’s mistake and suggests that the question actually involves some kind of choice.
To be able to answer this question correctly it is first important to understand the many deep layers of what it means. If “which country are you supporting?” is asked by a Dutchman for example the question would actually mean, “Are you supporting Holland?” and, “If not, why not?” as well as, “Aren’t you grateful for everything we have done for you, letting you stay here, letting you eat our stampot, ride our bikes, enjoy our windmills. You better be supporting us.”
It seems that most European countries are happy with you showing up, taking their jobs, their money, and their women and not attempting to learn the language but if you don’t support the local football team there will be some very deeply hurt feelings that might result in you being made an example of.
Saying that you don’t follow the sporting event in question might seem like an easy way to side step this question. However, this simply makes you a free and available resource in the eyes of your host country and means there is even less of a reason for you to not show your support by streaking through the town square wearing nothing but the local flag.
Personally, I try to answer by saying that I am supporting both countries (which in my case means England and Holland). However, this brings its own set of complications and one of two questions. “Which team are you supporting ‘more’?” and, “what if England and Holland have to face each other in the final?” Luckily for me Germany did a very efficient job of getting me out of that little moral dilemma this year but for some reason I’ve not really felt like sending them a thank you card.
And of course your team being knocked out is not the end of it. Suddenly the question becomes, “Which country are you supporting ‘now’?” You might be broken and still crying into your beer but that does not change the fact that you are a free resource once again.
At that point the question for yourself becomes, “why not?” It’s not like you have anyone else left to support and if you do they will just keep asking until you don’t. Besides, streaking through the town square might be fun.
Hup Holland Hup
(This post was also read the radio and can heard here.)