"Scotland, my team, is not there, so that's disappointing. There are people who think that, as First Minister, I should be supporting England instead, but football is not about politics so I will not be." - JACK MCCONNELL
Story in full JACK McConnell will not be supporting England in the World Cup, preferring to join thousands of his compatriots in cheering on Trinidad and Tobago.
The First Minister was expected to follow Chancellor Gordon Brown's lead and stick by the sole British team in this year's competition.
But Mr McConnell decided it would be wrong to support England simply for reasons of "politics" and revealed yesterday that he will be cheering on teams with Scottish-based players, singling out England's Group B rivals Trinidad and Tobago for special mention.
Asked on Radio Clyde whether he would be supporting England, Mr McConnell said: "No. I won't be.
"Scotland, my team, is not there, so that's disappointing. There are people who think that, as First Minister, I should be supporting England instead, but football is not about politics so I will not be.
"I will be supporting other teams in the various games I will manage to watch."
Asked who that might be, he replied: "There are many teams in the World Cup who have got Scottish-based players playing for them: Trinidad and Angola, other teams too. I will be watching their games with interest. I will be instinctively supporting the underdog in most of the games and teams with flair that I think should deserve to get to the final."
However, by saying he would support teams with "flair" and not England, Mr McConnell appeared to deliver another snub to the English team.
His unneighbourly stance, which will not surprise his Labour colleagues from England, puts him at odds with Mr Brown who has said he will cheer for England and even attend England's game against Sweden in Cologne.
Downing Street refused to be drawn on Mr McConnell's approach yesterday.
"That's entirely a matter for Mr McConnell," said the Prime Minister's official spokesman.
Mr McConnell now has an unlikely ally in the form of Alex Salmond.
The SNP leader said three days ago he would be supporting Trinidad and Tobago because several team members play their club football in Scotland.
Mr Salmond said: "I'm T and T, but for years I was the only practising Anglophile in Scottish politics. I don't support teams against England, but I think Trinidad and Tobago have some interesting Scottish players playing for them.
"That's the nearest we're getting to the World Cup."
Marvin Andrews, of Rangers, Russell Latapy, of Falkirk, Jason Scotland, of St Johnstone and Dundee United's Collin Samuel are all in the Trinidad squad.
John Kaylor, chairman of the Tartan Army in Perthshire, said he admired Mr McConnell for his honesty and so would football fans in Scotland.
He said: "I'm really surprised McConnell's got the gall to say he's not supporting England. However, I think he's quite right. England are our greatest rivals at everything so why should we want them to win? He's really gone up in my estimation and the fans will support him for this."
And he added: "McConnell usually bows down to the English, he's got to politically because he can't be seen to be anti-English. But let's face it, he's never going to be prime minister so he can afford to speak out a bit."