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Secret Thinker ponders whether or not to support the Lionesses as England face Spain in the World Cup final

By Secret Thinker

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England face Spain in the World Cup final on Sunday.
England face Spain in the World Cup final on Sunday.

I know a neighbour with a flagpole in their garden. Often flown is a Saltire or a Lion Rampant, but I've also seen a Rainbow flag and a Ukraine flag. I guess it depends what's happening (or which Scotland banner is due to go in the wash).

However, I've not seen a Union flag or a St George cross. Tomorrow the Lionesses face Spain in the World Cup final. It's the first time an England football team has reached the final of a World Cup since 1966. I'd bet there will be a fair number of people in and around Inverness who are keen to see them do well, but they might be less keen to show it.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has been described as awkward in his approach to answering whether he will cheer on the England team. He basically said he wished both teams the best of luck.

It's a shame when our political leader feels he has to somewhat sit on the fence when asked about our neighbours south of the border. But football is a tribal sport and politics can be the same, so I guess we shouldn't be that surprised.

However without shouting your support from the rooftops, you can use a flag. Showing your support with flags can be controversial. It's probably controversial saying that it's controversial. We've seen how people can react to flags that resemble things they may not agree with. Earlier this summer a Pride flag was ripped down from outside a city centre café. It was sad to see but I'd be worried that if I was to fly a flag outside showing my support for the Lionesses something similar might happen.

It's a shame because we should be able to respect each other enough to not have to fear this sort of thing.

You can purchase pretty much any banner you care to mention these days and when I was younger one of my favourite educational games was a geography-themed quiz which would ask you to recognise different flags, find where countries were on a rotating globe and name capital cities of various nations.

As I got older – and discovered different things – my interest in flags has waned, but it still grabs my attention if there's a flag question on a TV gameshow or at a pub quiz. There must be others who share a similar interest, especially given new flags are being created for Moray and Banffshire.

But will anyone ever not think twice about the type of flag they fly? Will they be concerned about the backlash – like when Highland Council was keen to mark the King's Coronation by shining red, white and blue colours onto Inverness Town House and the Ness Bridge.

Is it that patriotism has become politicised and divisions over the prospect of a one-day independent Scotland has seen banners associated with those movements?

There's no doubt that flags are used by people who want to express their support for something – whether that's simply a football team playing a match or something on a bigger scale. Understanding the reasoning behind why that flag is being flown is a better approach than making any assumptions based on alternative associations.

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