Is it wrong to dress as a crusader for an England match?

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1. What's the problem?

What is your costume of choice at a sports match? Spectators at international events channel their patriotism by wearing the colours of their flag, face paint and national emblems: Germans in lederhosen; Irish fans dressed as shamrocks or walking pints of stout; Australians bouncing around as Kangaroos or Wallabies. The “fun” element is stressed.

However, sport can also be connected with battle. New Zealand's Haka was originally a war dance. And the costume most commonly associated with England fans is that of a crusading knight. Fans have been dressing as crusaders since the 1990s, when a party atmosphere became a big part of international matches.

Clearly there is a spirit of conviviality, but should there be a discomfort when sport is linked to conflict? So let’s investigate who people feel they are dressing up as, and whether it is harmless fun or something that might be seen as offensive.

2. INTERACTIVE: Who are you dressing up as?

Click below to find out what the red and white knight's costume might represent to different people.

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3. History of the crusades

4. Harmless fun, or something more?

We asked three people for their opinion on whether dressing up as a crusader is acceptable.

Richard, Reading, England fan

"The events of the crusades happened many hundreds of years ago. The costumes are very over-the-top and clearly in the realms of fancy dress – a festive, family orientated England fan culture."

David, Hounslow, retired teacher

“If I know that something offends others but I am involved with them in a joint activity then it is probably a good idea to moderate or stop what is giving offence. The potent symbolism of the crusader outfit takes the issue beyond the world of just a bit of fun."

Amin, London, football fan

"I have some reservations due to the bloody history of the crusades. Yes, it's a part of history, but we need to move on. Conquest and pillage in the name of Christianity isn't exactly a positive reminder of our history and not something we should really be celebrating."

5. Would you dress up as a crusader?