The Auld Enemy? Exploring the England vs. Scotland rivalry from the perspective of soccer fans

Stuart Whigham, Tom Gibbons

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    A long-standing and persistent rivalry is said to exist between England and Scotland in the context of international soccer. In this essay, we seek to test common media representations emphasizing division against the opinions of English and Scottish soccer fans themselves. The complexity of English views towards Scottish people both inside and outside of soccer is explored using examples from an online participant observation study with English fans. Moreover, the extent to which anti-English sentiment constitutes an element of Scottish national identity in soccer and society more broadly is also explored using examples from semi-structured interviews with Scottish fans on the topic of the rivalry between the two nations. We argue that via representations in the media soccer has both provided the context for reinforcing broader divisions between these neighbouring nations as well as creating specific memories in the minds of soccer fans that enhance divisive feelings amongst some English and Scottish fans. However, we also note the extent to which the stereotype of division is perpetuated by the media and how this is sometimes at odds with the views of both Scottish and English fans alike. We conclude that so long as the media perpetuate division between the two nations in a simplistic manner the reality of the complex and evolving relationship between Scottish and English fans will remain unclear and misunderstood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)673-686
    Number of pages14
    JournalSoccer & Society
    Issue number5-6
    Early online date10 Nov 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Subject to 18 month embargo author can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing). For full details see [15/11/2017] This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Soccer and Society on 11 Nov 2017, available online:


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