Thursday, July 8, 2010
The BBC have, as is customary, been the better of the two World Cup broadcasters this year (although just for once ITV have had the better theme tune). But some of last night's panel discussion about the state of grass-roots football, and the lessons that could be learned for England from the likes of Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, illustrated yet again the all-pervasive (and probably unthinking) 'England is the country we're broadcasting to and for' mindset. Yes, it was perfectly natural that British broadcasters should focus exclusively on England as the sole UK qualifiers - until they were knocked out. At that point, a state of equality was restored between the four 'Home Nations', all of whom are now on a par as potential qualifiers (or indeed non-qualifiers) for future international tournaments. So why did Gary Lineker - two complete rounds of the competition after England's departure - feel it was appropriate to focus exclusively on the way forward for English football? The reference solely to England's performances in recent age-restricted international tournaments was particularly striking, given that it's just four years since Scotland were runners-up (to Spain) in the European under-19 Championships.