'Harry walks, Fabio runs': A case study on the current relationship between English national identity, soccer and the English press

Gerald Griggs, Tom Gibbons

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    Abstract

    On 8 February 2012 Fabio Capello resigned from his position as manager of the England men’s national association football (soccer) team. The date this decision became public coincided with the acquittal in court of Harry Redknapp following the Tottenham Hotspur FC manager being accused of tax evasion. As Redknapp was considered the media favourite to succeed Capello as England manager, press coverage of these two events proved an interesting case through which to explore the current relationship between English national identity, soccer and the English national press. As such, this paper is concerned with how the events of that day were reported by nine different English national newspapers across 82 pages of coverage. Thematic analysis revealed that journalists often adopted a ‘Little Englander’ mentality with regards to their attitudes towards Capello, due to his Italian nationality. Contrary to this, the press frequently depicted Redknapp as a typically ‘English’ working-class hero linking him with nostalgic references to a bygone ‘golden era’ of English soccer. These findings illustrate the main ways in which the English press continue to present English national identity via their soccer-related coverage as insular and rooted in the past.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)536-549
    JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
    Volume49
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

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