The International Break We Actually Want

The 2022 World Cup provides an unusual break for Liverpool supporters that could be a proper reset for the new year.

How are we all? It’s important to check in on each other during a break like this! I talked last month about the fact that, for us, this is a leisure activity. Following this team is something we do willingly, it may have initially been bestowed upon us from past generations but the extent to which we let it impact our lives is purely dictated by ourselves. It is in times like these that this pastime perhaps becomes all the more perplexing to those looking in from the outside to your friends and family who have never truly understood your fixation with eleven men who run around on a field at the weekend.

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For me, it’s work colleagues. They have seen me come into the office miserable, often a little worse
for wear, on a number of occasions this season because those eleven men have ruined my weekend
again. At the time of writing, I will be making my way to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a couple
of days to do it all over again.

“Why Do You Do It If It Makes You Feel Like This?”

I could point to a number of things when they ask me that question. My current go-to is to mention
the blue brethren, our Evertonian friends who make the exact same sacrifices for scarce reward.
Times are difficult for us at the moment but there is a body of evidence to suggest that there will be
a payoff for our loyal support. That has not been the case for our neighbors across Stanley Park for
many years.

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I also find it important to note that it is not unusual behavior even though it may appear that way to
an onlooker. Liverpool is a superpower with millions of supporters across the globe. It seems
obsessive to the observer but it is perfectly customary conduct for any Liverpool fan.
Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, traveling to local supporters clubs across town to meet
friends, and cheering on eleven men competing 4,000 miles away are routine occurrences. If you are not “in it” it can seem absurd but it is common practice for Liverpool supporters. And to be fair we wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, it is a lot more difficult to justify that to ourselves when the eleven men aren’t kicking the ball
very well. Those routines become much more of a chore. The pep in one’s step after 3 points has
become a lot less frequent than it was when we chased every trophy available deep into May. When
your team is winning every week there isn’t a single doubt in your mind about why you commit to
this but the moment things begin to unravel is the point at which you question everything. Yet you still keep coming back for more.

An Unusual Break Looms

Fear not, these habits are soon to be broken for six weeks when the World Cup rolls around. Mo
Salah’s schedule for the past three years has been relentless. This break is one he will not thank anybody
for but one which will do his body and mind the world of good. Plenty of our other star names will
also not be making the trip to Qatar on selection, qualification, or fitness grounds. They will all wish
they were there but will all benefit from a breather in their own way.  Quite frankly, we as fans deserve a break too. You will have your own interpretations and views on international football, but the blood and thunder of two Liverpool games a week will cease until after Christmas and it will give us all a chance to exhale.

You may well be looking forward to it. The United States side looks as impressive as it has done for a
long time and they might get your blood pumping in the same way that the boys in red do.
Alternatively, this might be a time for you to mentally tune out, an opportunity to enjoy the greatest
festival of sport there is but ultimately without the partisan nature that comes with club football.

My Winter Sabbatical

For me? I can’t be bothered this time, even less so than normal. England has never stirred my soul
the way Liverpool has and at a time when the city’s identity is further removed from the
establishment and its advocates than ever before I am apathetic at best about their World Cup

I have friends who support England and I honestly hope that they have an enjoyable winter and
embrace the sense of togetherness that international football induces. Instead, I will be choosing
to look on from afar and, to an extent, take the position of those work colleagues who cannot
normally fathom the level of emotional investment involved. As much as anything, I will be enjoying
a rest from the hustle and bustle of being “in it”.

The venue also adds to my personal decision to detach myself from the whole thing. A nation that
fails to accept LGBT supporters and sports-washed its way to hosting the biggest international
tournament on the planet isn’t particularly high up on my list of places to visit. Qatar pitched a
summer World Cup knowing full well it wasn’t possible for them to deliver one, and the lives of
hundreds of migrant workers were lost in the pursuit of delivering a winter version.

Whatever your plans are for the World Cup break, enjoy yourself. Enjoy the opportunity to put your feet
up, enjoy the time spent with friends, enjoy the spectacle, enjoy the patriotism. There is no right or
wrong way to do this.

Most of all, let’s be ready to go again for Aston Villa on December 26th.

Up the Reds!