The FA hits out at suggestions Three Lions would be scrapped for World Cup

Gareth Southgate on "intriguing" fixtures at World Cup 2022 draw

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The Football Association has rubbished media reports that Three Lions could be axed as England’s World Cup song. There had been suggestions that David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s classic It’s Coming Home anthem could be banned from being played at the upcoming tournament due to worries it might offend other nations.

The Sun reported that Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline could be adopted as the anthem for Gareth Southgate’s side at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The newspaper planned to launch a campaign to save the anthem and quoted England legend Paul Gascoigne as a voice of support.

“That song is in our DNA. It helped us in 1996 and it’ll help the boys in Qatar,” Gascoigne said.”The FA have totally lost the plot. 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.”

The FA has now responded to the reports, which sparked outrage on social media. A spokesperson said: “Contrary to reports this morning, The FA still plays Three Lions at major Wembley matches and has never had any intention of doing otherwise. The song belongs to the fans and is about the hope of following the England team.

“It was requested by The FA to be played as one of our team songs at the 2018 World Cup and at the EUROs last summer, and this is our plan at tournaments going forwards.”

The Sun had previously quoted senior figures at the FA, who were understood to be arguing that now was a good time to make the change to what was deemed to be a more ‘positive’ song. Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions has been a fan-favourite since Euro 1996 and documents the then 30 years of hurt felt by supporters since England’s sole World Cup win in 1966.

Piers Morgan was one of those to hit out at the FA’s apparent thinking. “This is a ridiculous idea,” he said. “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.”

Baddiel has previously suggested that Three Lions could be phased out due to widespread misinterpretation of the song’s lyrics. “Neil Diamond was set up as a kind of rival during the last Euro competition,” he said last year. “There was a thing which my manager feels was actually a conspiracy set up by The FA — they don’t really like Three Lions.

“I think it’s the notion — misinterpreted by many people — that football’s coming home means that England owns football and we are the homeland of football. Which historically is the case. We were the first one to ratify the rules of the game. But somehow that’s offensive to other FAs – like the Croatian FA or whatever.”

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