Ian Wright
Ian Wright point the finger of blame for England's World Cup failure at modern football culture Reuters

Ian Wright being a prat isn't news, but when he drops a clanger of the scale seen in this morning's Sun then his prattishness deserves to have a ruddy great spotlight shone on it.

"The next young player who says he does not want to play for England should be ordered to ring the parents of a soldier who has died serving his country in Afghanistan and tell them his reasons," reads the opening line of his column for the paper.

Ian Wright
The Sun

Where to begin? You could take exception to the longevity of the sentence maybe, but that's not really the point. How about the incredibly dunderheaded notion that representing your country and laying down your life for it are similar?

Or maybe you could point out that the parents of deceased soldiers probably wouldn't be very keen to hear from the next generations of Rooneys? Or the oversight that our serving men and women are British, not necessarily English.

It's truly difficult to think of 37 words that have ever been more wrong in a single swoop.

I love football, don't get me wrong, but this kind of buffoonery fuels the fires of those who hate it and the whole perceived culture that its fans are moronic cavemen who believe it is as important as oxygen, sustenance and socks.

If a player doesn't want to represent their country then does that really matter? Wouldn't it in fact be better if they felt like they could say no, leaving the national team for those who genuinely want to represent it?

It would certainly be interesting to hear what Wright has to say about Paul Scholes – revered as one of the greatest English midfielders ever – who retired from internationals in 2004, nine whole years before retiring altogether.

Wright eventually notes that some people "will say I'm out of order for mentioning Afghanistan in this context," but a whiff of self-awareness (buried in the fifteenth paragraph) doesn't come close to remedying the stupidity of his earlier statement.

Not that Wright's opinion causes any damage in need of remedying. His reactionary twaddle will be shrugged off and forgotten with the next kick of a ball in Brazil and the tabloids will get back on with their usual World Cup shtick.

Every two years as the England team (usually, but not always) gears up for another international tournament, St George's flags plaster the red-tops and we get front pages that suggest that football is of greater importance than anything else going on in the world - including the deaths of soldiers (not just British) on foreign fields.

This may be sacrilegious for a football fan to say, but for all the joy, excitement and wonder the sport brings to people young and old the world over, football is not the be all and end all of human existence.

Football is only a game. An excellent game millions, including myself, will watch habitually for most of our lives, but still only a game, and that is really something Ian Wright and his inflammatory paymasters should remember.