Tabloids create England-Germany tension around football matches
(22 August 2007)
The tabloid press plays a central role in promoting artificial Anglo-German tensions at times such as England-Germany football matches, a Durham University expert suggests.
Dr Christian Schweiger, of the School of Government and International Affairs, proposes that the longstanding England-Germany rivalry now exists only in the press. Dr Schweiger, author of a book on cooperation between Britain and Germany, suggests that any antagonism that existed between Britain and Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War has gradually disappeared in recent years. Despite this reality, however, when events such as football matches between England and Germany occur, the tabloid press artificially create Anglo-German tensions that are projected into the public domain. Six years on from the World Cup 2002 qualifier match, England and Germany meet again today (Wednesday 22 August) in a friendly International at the new Wembley Stadium. Dr Schweiger said: “The role of the tabloid media is the main aspect behind Anglo-German tensions. “The majority of British people today, especially younger generations, perceive German as a partner country, no longer holding any particular resentments about Germany and its people. “The obsessive anti-European sentiment expressed by the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s allowed the British tabloids to use increasingly hostile and often xenophobic language against the UK's continental European partners, particularly France and Germany. “This legacy has lingered on and becomes particularly bad during football competitions.” In his book, ‘Britain, Germany and the Future of the European Union’, Dr Schweiger writes: “Even the negative portrayal of Germany during eighteen years of Conservative rule in Britain, or the occasional screaming tabloid reference to the war years could not seriously damage the increasing cultural and political closeness between the United Kingdom and Britain. “It is therefore not exaggerated to claim that today normality rules in British-German relations. With no concealed suspicions remaining between them, the British and Germans would hence be ideal partners in Europe”.