England’s iconic football anthem Football’s Coming Home is facing the axe amid concerns rival nations find the lyrics provocative.
The song, written by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, creators of the pioneering Fantasy Football League show which grew a cult following in the mid-90s, along with The Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie, has been a terrace favourite since it debuted ahead of Euro 96.
However, even though the lyrics were designed to be ironic and self-deprecating, Football Association chiefs fear the song is now considered offensive and being used as motivation for England’s World Cup rivals.
That was certainly the case ahead of last summer’s European Championship final when Italy prevented Gareth Southgate’s side from becoming the first England team to win a major trophy since 1966.
The likes of Jorginho and Giorgio Chiellini delighted in telling the Italian media they had changed the words to ‘Football’s Coming Rome’ after they prevailed in a penalty shootout.
Neil Diamond’s stadium singalong Sweet Caroline, which has been traditionally used to drum up the atmosphere ahead of big boxing shows both in England and America, is now favourite to become the official pre-match song.
England legend, Paul Gascoigne, however, believes FA chiefs are overreacting and would be crazy to can a song that has become synonymous with following the Three Lions at home and abroad.
Football’s Coming Home | Chorus Lyrics
Three Lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming
It’s coming home
It’s coming home
Football’s coming home
‘That song is in our DNA. It helped us in 1996 and it’ll help the boys in Qatar,’ Gascoigne told The Sun. ‘You can’t take that song off us. Sweet Caroline doesn’t come close.
‘It would be like saying we can’t wave St George’s flags anymore. This woke nonsense has no place in football. It’s just a great song.’
Piers Morgan, meanwhile, blasted the FA’s fplan and said: ‘This is a ridiculous idea.
‘The song is all about wallowing in 30 years of hurt and pain at not winning anything, how can anyone say it is arrogant.
‘We should absolutely stick with Three Lions.’
FA’ big wigs, however, believe the time is right for a change and want a more positive atmosphere to be created ahead of matches.
An England source said: ‘The FA have always countered the song’s negatives by stressing that it’s all about hope — but there’s a feeling it might be time for a change.
‘We have a great squad and a great chance in Qatar so it might be better to look forward from now on rather than back. “Gareth Southgate isn’t involved in the debate but he may well have decidedly mixed memories about 1996 after missing the penalty which knocked us out in the semi.
‘Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline was a huge hit with fans singing their hearts out at Euro 2020 and must be a strong contender now.
‘It has nothing to do with football but it’s a great feelgood song — and has absolutely no negativity attached to it.’
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