The English Press and Germany: A History

By | October 21st, 2015 | No Comments

England_WestGermany_1954The Football Scholars Forum opened its 2015-16 season on Wednesday, October 14, with a discussion of Christoph Wagner’s DeMontfort University PhD thesis entitled “Crossing The Line: The English Press and Anglo-German Football, 1954-1996.”

Based on extensive archival research, “Crossing the Line” analyzes representations of Germany and Germans in English newspapers’ football coverage of key international matches between the two western European nations. Within a shifting post-war historical context, the study notes a persistent undercurrent of hostility in Anglo-German cultural relations, football included.

However, two distinct phases were described. In the first, extending from the 1950s to the rise of Thatcher, dailies generally adopted a restrained tone and their coverage was notable for the “relative absence of anti-German sentiment.” A major transformation occurred in the second phase, from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, as English press coverage turned more negative, chauvinistic, and increasingly xenophobic.

The FSF discussion with the author touched on many different aspects of Wagner’s study, from the militarization of language in the football press and the forging of national stereotypes to narratives of English decline, methodology and sources.

A recording of the session is available here.

For more information about the Football Scholars Forum visit the online think tank’s website.


Spotlight Africa: After the 2014 World Cup

By | July 23rd, 2014 | No Comments

I chatted about the 2014 World Cup with Assumpta Oturu on KPFK Pacifica Radio‘s Spotlight Africa program.

We analyzed Brazil’s historic collapse, Germany’s youth development policies, club versus country loyalties, African teams’ performances and what can be done to improve their results in global football.

Listen to the entire July 19, 2014, show here.

Circus Without Bread: Reflections on Brazil 2014

By | July 17th, 2014 | No Comments


Guest Post by *Derek Charles Catsam

I recently returned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was a remarkable experience in a beautiful country. Everywhere we went people were gracious, joyful hosts. We ate fantastic churrasqueira (the Brazilian barbecue that will fuel my dreams for months) and drank among friends. The games were tremendous, the colorful visiting fans (with special mention to the dancing, chanting, singing, drinking Argentine throngs) made the World Cup the event that it is. The protests were more intermittent than expected. But the issues raised were as valid as ever.

I was based in Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul on Brazil’s southern border with Uruguay and Argentina. I attended four matches in Estadio Beria-Rio, the home of Sports Club Internacional: France-Honduras, Algeria-South Korea, Argentina-Nigeria, and the round of 16 match pitting eventual champions Germany against the Algeria. With 32 teams competing, the first two weeks of the World Cup are an unparalleled Carnival of Nations. Porto Alegre was in the midst of a Brazilian winter, hardly freezing, but occasionally raw and damp. The bikinis and swimming shorts that many of you saw as the regular going-to-commercial interludes on ESPN were many hundreds of miles north.

The tournament, which equaled the most goals (171) ever scored in a World Cup, was spectacularly entertaining and Germany is certainly a worthy champion. But once the confetti cleared, the last drinks were downed, tourists returned home, and Brazilians shook off the shameful way the Seleção flamed out of the tournament (and I do not for one second believe that the presence of Thiago Silva and Neymar against Germany and the Netherlands would have made much difference—Brazil’s problems were systemic) a familiar question looms: Was hosting the World Cup worth it?

Germany’s History of Failure vs. Italy Continues

By | June 28th, 2012 | 3 Comments

Super-Mario Balotelli wrote a new page in Germany’s History of Failure against Italy in Warsaw today. He scored two goals, the first a header off a delightful Cassano cross; the second a thunderous strike from outside the box, which he celebrated in inimitable style (photo above). He is Italy’s pride and joy.

Manager Cesare Prandelli did his part as well, completely outcoaching his German counterpart Jogi Loew. Italy now moves on the final against Spain on Sunday in Kiev.

Full Italy-Germany highlights courtesy of here.

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Germany’s History of Failure vs. Italy: Part 3

By | June 27th, 2012 | 3 Comments

After two more draws (1-1 and 0-0) at the 1988 and 1996 Euros, on July 4, 2006, Germany and Italy met again in the semifinals of the World Cup. The venue was the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, an intimidating ground for any visiting team.

In a remarkable affair reminiscent of the 1970 World Cup semifinal at the Azteca (see my previous post here), extra time was needed. The climax defies description. So let’s leave it to Fabio Caressa and Giuseppe Bergomi (1982 World Cup winner at age 18) of Sky Italia to resurrect the memories — spine-tingling ones from an Italian point of view — of that cathartic evening.

Follow me on Twitter during the game tomorrow: @futbolprof

E daje Italiaaaaa!

Germany’s History of Failure vs. Italy: Part 2

By | June 26th, 2012 | 3 Comments

July 11, 1982: the World Cup final at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. Four years earlier, West Germany had drawn 0-0 against a young, enterprising Italian side in the second group stage of the 1978 World Cup — the Argentinean Generals’ Mundial. (Video highlights here.)

1978 was also the year of the assassination of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro (who was held for a month in an apartment building adjacent to my elementary school), and the inauguration of President Sandro Pertini, a dedicated socialist and former anti-Fascist resistance fighter. We didn’t know it back then, but “The Years of Lead” were about to come to an end. Football — or calcio as we call it — was about to show us that the road to the future went beyond Left and Right.

With the pipe-smoking Pertini enjoying the 1982 final next to King Juan Carlos in the VIP section of Real Madrid’s majestic stadium, the Azzurri demolished the (West) Germans 3-1. Not everything went perfectly that night. Graziani’s injury forced an early substitution and then Cabrini — my mother’s favorite player — missed a penalty: the only time I ever heard my uncle, a man of the cloth, swear audibly.

The second half was all Italy. Physically and mentally fatigued after their penalty shootout victory gainst Michel Platini’s France in an extraordinary semifinal (highlights here), Germany caved in. Paolo Rossi opened the score with his sixth goal of the tournament and then Tardelli made it 2-0, celebrating it with such emotional abandon that we imitated it for years on playgrounds and pitches around the land.

When Altobelli added a third late in the game Pertini leaped out of his seat, waving his arms, rejoicing, telling everyone around him that “adesso non ci prendono più!” (Now they’re not going to catch us anymore!). Breitner got a consolation goal, but it didn’t matter. When the Brazilian referee theatrically picked up the ball with his hands, raised it above his head and blew the final whistle, match announcer Nando Martellini pronounced to the masses that we were “Campioni del Mondo! Campioni del Mondo! Campioni del Mondo!”

Millions of Italians thundered in a massive impromptu street carnival the likes of which had not been seen, the elders told us, since Liberation. Giving in to pleas from me and my friend Fabio, my uncle, in his clerical collar, honked his rickety FIAT 127’s horn all the way from our parish in the Marche hills to coastal Pesaro so that we could experience these historic celebrations. A quarter of a century later, another generation would experience the intoxicating feeling of World Cup victory . . . and Germany, once again, would play a key role in Italy’s success story.

Come back tomorrow for the final installment of Germany’s history of failure against Italy.

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Germany’s History of Failure Against Italy

By | June 25th, 2012 | 5 Comments

Germany is favored to win Thursday’s Euro 2012 semifinal against Italy. While Die Manschschaft has played the best and most consistent football in the tournament, the Azzurri have won just one game in regulation and reached the semifinal only after surviving a penalty shootout against England. History provides a counterpoint to soccernomics-style prognostications, however, because the Germans — or West Germans — have never defeated Italy in Euros or World Cup tournaments.

It started with a forgettable goalless draw at the 1962 World Cup in Santiago del Chile, but ignited in a globally televised World Cup semifinal played at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on June 17, 1970, which Italy won 4-3 in extra time. Outside the Azteca a plaque commemorates it as “The Match of the Century.” The video above combines footage of the original broadcast with Fabio Caressa’s 21st-century play-by-play commentary. Rumor has it that this clip is streaming on a loop in the Azzurri’s team hotel . . .

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of Germany’s history of football failure against Italy.

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