Written by Jon Garland in 2004, the Same Old Story Englishness, the Tabloid Press and the 2002 Football World Cup, explores issues surrounding the world cup of 2006, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth II.
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The reports, which covered the period of the world cup tournament concerning the English team, also carried some racial undertones, and as such lacked substance (Garland 2004, pp. 80). The reason that makes me conclude this manner is that the reports covered issues that seemed to favor the white English people (Garland 2004, pp. 80).
The article categorically calls this “Englishness”. From this article, it is vivid that during this period, there existed rivalry between the English team and Argentina. This rivalry dates back to the year 1968 when the England team lost to Argentina in the quarterfinals and later in 1986 during the finals (Shohat & Stam 1994, pp. 23). The article also exposes the English fans as vengeful. The revelation that the tournament presented to them an opportunity to revenge former humiliation by Argentineans serves to support this.
It is worthy to mention that besides the mere rivalry between these two teams, waning relations existed between their respective nations following an earlier war and the British colonialism legacy. This, I believe, also contributed to their rivalry. The many instances of racism and super patriotism that appear in this article reveal that racism and super patriotism were real problems in England (Van Dijk 2000, pp. 33).
One such coverage in the New Star describes teams of the African origin as dependants of spells for success. This newspaper also reports that a French player, Zinedine Zidane, was a victim of the spell and it could hinder his performance. In yet another instance, ‘The sun’, features the then coach of the English team, Sven Goran Eriksson, as a racist (Garland 2004, pp. 82).
The behavior of the coach is highly questionable because it is unethical. His earnest belief that being a fighter or relentless struggler is an English trait that acts as an inspiration for the English team creates an impression of pride and prejudice, which are recipes for racism. The belief of the coach about the ‘fighter’ trait further portrays him as a racist when he reveals his justification for the success in earlier two world wars. He says that it was because of the fighter characteristics of the English people (Perryman 2001, pp. 33).
When the team went past its rivals (Argentina and Germany), knocking them out of the tournament hence attracting many praises to him, he also gives the same justification. At one instance, people suggest that he becomes an honorary Englishman for demonstrating fighting characteristics that prevent him from letting his country down where it does matter. From this instance, one can easily deduce that prejudice was actually a problem to all white English people.
Highlighted in this article are also some of the events that were concurrent with the world cup tournament. In these events, I can clearly identify some aspects of racism and Englishness. Since the ‘Daily Mirror’ acknowledges that the supporters of the English team included blacks, whites and Asians it is a clear indication that being English is not a function of whiteness of one’s skin (Garland & Rowe 1999, pp. 83).
Such a statement reveals that not all the people are racists and further acknowledges that racism is a problem in the society. In contrast to the argument by the ‘Daily Mirror’, the ‘Mirror’ and other tabloids bring out a negative image.
The coverage made by these sources on the issues about immigration and asylum seekers, reveals racialism. Governments and concerned authorities should discourage these kinds of coverage (Hobsbawm 1990, pp. 12). It is also worthy to mention a rather shocking coverage by the ‘News of the World’ which called for the kicking out of asylum seekers and labeled them ‘thugs’ and ‘monsters’. I find this quite unacceptable and suggest for an urgent intervention.
Garland, J., 2004. The Same Old Story? Englishness, the Tabloid Press and the 2002 Football World Cup. Leisure Studies, 23(1), pp. 79–92.
Garland, J., & Rowe, M., 1999. War minus the shooting: jingoism, the English press, and Euro ‘96’. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 23(1), pp. 80–95.
Hobsbawm, E., 1990. Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Marsh, P., Fox, K., Carnibella, G., McCann, J., & Marsh, J., 1996. Football Violence In Europe. The Amsterdam Group.
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Perryman, M., 2001. Hooligan Wars: Causes and Effects of Football Violence. Edinburgh: Mainstream
Van Dijk, A., 2000. New(s) racism: a discourse analytical approach. Ethnic Minorities and the Media, 30(2), pp. 33–49.