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

Stuart Whigham, Tom Gibbons

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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
Title of host publicationFace to Face: Enduring Rivalries in World Soccer
EditorsKausik Bandyopadhyay
ISBN (Print)9780367747015
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Dear Author,

Hope this email finds you well in this difficult time.
I am happy to let you know that the Soccer & Society special issue 19.5-6 Face to Face: Enduring Rivalries in World Soccer, which included your article, has been accepted for publication as book by Routledge. The book is already displayed in the forthcoming title list of Routledge (

The details of the book are as follows:
Title: Face to Face: Enduring Rivalries in World Soccer (Routledge, 2021)

ISBN: 978-0-367-74701-5

Planned Publication Date: 14th April 2021

Thank you for your valuable contribution to the volume. The cover of the book will be available online very soon.

Best regards

Take care and stay well.


Kausik Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D
Professor of History, West Bengal State University, India
Deputy Executive Editor, Soccer and Society (Routledge)
Advisory Editor, South Asia Archive
Honorary Member, International Board of Scholars, International Football Institute, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Former Fellow, International Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland


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