by Rab Bruce’s Spider

The BBC in Scotland have been trying to make news out of the fact that many Scots are not supporting England in the World Cup and that many go so far as to support whoever England are playing against. IN some perverted way, this is seen as evidence that those who support Scottish independence are anti-English.

The reality is that, as with any sporting rivalry, there will always be those who harbour a dislike of their nearest and greatest rivals. Look at any local derby football match for confirmation of this. Whether this dislike continues after a match will depend on the individual concerned, but whatever people’s sporting views are, it is wrong to assume that these can be used as evidence of their political views.

As for the issue of Scottish football fans not supporting England, a trawl through social media comments will show that the problem lies not so much with the sporting aspect but with the media.

Let’s face it, England have a good team with a lot of talented players. They may or may not win the World Cup, but they certainly have a chance. They also have a manager who is increasingly showing himself to be calm, sensible, and good at man management.

The problem, though, is with the media. But let us admit that the Scottish media would probably be just as excited and over the top if Scotland were ever to do well in a World Cup. Those old enough to remember 1978 will know what that was like. An official celebration parade before the team even left was embarrassing, and let’s not even talk about that song.

But Scottish media, such as it is, only reaches Scotland. Our problem at the moment is that every time we turn on the television or radio, we hear about England and how they are on track to win the World Cup. This would not happen in a normal country. We should not begrudge English football fans their moment of enjoyment, but neither should we, as a separate nation, be compelled to share in it whether we want to or not. Many of us wish the England team well, but a more detached reporting of their progress, and that of every other team in the competition, would be more appropriate in a normal country.

The problem is that the BBC broadcasts with the view of the majority of the UK in mind, which means it is, understandably, very focused on England. There was a similar presentation back in 2014 during the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. During the day, Radio 5 was the channel to follow the action. The coverage was good, but concentrated very much on the performance of individual English athletes. Welsh, Irish and Scottish athletes were mentioned, of course, especially if they won medals, but the main focus was on the English athletes. In the evenings, it was possible to switch to Sportsound on BBC Radio Scotland where the emphasis shifted. It must also be said that the Sportsound team, who generally commentate on football and rugby, brought a light-hearted and informal, if very pro-Scottish, view to their commentaries.

Which brings us back to the inescapable fact that Scotland’s media is not normal. We know broadcasting is not devolved because that would mean a loss of control of the news narrative from Westminster, but the other result of this is that our sports coverage is also Anglo-centric. In the days of the old Home Internationals, Scottish viewers would hear Scottish commentators when Scotland played England. Now, when England play other teams, we hear only the English perspective. It is easy to say this shouldn’t matter, but any sporting fan will tell you that listening to your greatest rivals go on about how good they are is a real turn off.

Now I’m off to watch the World Cup. And, as usual, I’ll be rooting for Brazil.