Of course, in an age of high-priced transfers, the notion of a team “representing” any geography—whether local or national—is increasingly illogical. Players in professional leagues switch between teams “representing” different cities as quickly as it takes to ink a new contract. That fact essentially reduces fans to cheering for not players, but different colored shirts. “You’re actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it,” American comedian Jerry Seinfeld famously said.

And maybe that’s fine. The fact that players can so easily lead lives that cross borders would be impossible without the peace and stability that have largely prevailed in Europe since 1945. From that perspective, the fact that the millions of fans turning into the Euros don’t really care where the players wearing their colors are from is a very good thing.

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