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Avoiding Eurosnobbery

Eurosnoberry is found throughout the English language football press. While most commentators who work for English language mediums have inherent biases some are actually better than others. Other European based press is equally bad if not worse than the English language press.

In the UK based press, The Guardian Unlimited makes an effort on its website, in print and on its Football Weekly podcast to pay lip service to the rest of the world. The Guardian as a newspaper lacks much of the xenophobia and jingoism that populates the London based press corps, and thus its football pages reflect a more worldly perspective despite still having an obvious British bias.

The Guardian boasts many US based readers, including myself. Because of this the paper has made an effort, albeit perhaps a token effort to include US news, Latin American news and discussion of Continental football on its website and podcast.

 BBC World Service does a fine job covering other aspect of football, and BBC radio five live is quite entertaining and enlightening when Alan Green is not on the air. But the rest of the UK press is pretty poor.

Some UK based newspapers like the Times are best ignored entirely while others like the Telegraph masquerade once and a while as serious football papers. The Daily Mirror and Daily Mail produce nothing but scandal mongering and gossip in their football pages and have scarcely noticed that the game is played outside the British Isles.

Setanta Sports News and Sky Sports News are lessons in Jingoism 101 much like the American news media was after September 11th. The American flag motif behind the Fox News and MSNBC logos from that period could very well be repeated with an English flag logo morphing Sky Sports own logo for South Africa 2010.

Should Scotland or Wales improbably qualify for the World Cup, a real test will be to see if equal ink in the newspapers, space on websites and time on UK based sports programs is devoted to those side. During France 1998, England got far more coverage in the London based press than Scotland, and one must assume Scottish qualification for another major tournament would be viewed with same dismissive attitude.

The German based press is also best ignored. It’s most prominent publication; Bild takes all the excesses of the English media and rolls it into one lousy publication. German websites continue a provincial focus and often times are completely ignorant to what is happening in other top European leagues. The gradual regression of the Bundesliga in perception worldwide has been countered in the German media which does their best to discredit other top leagues and make whomever the current German national team coach is, uncomfortable in his job.

The Spanish and Italian based press if possible is even worse than the English or German press. One cannot help but recall England’s trip to Spain for an international friendly in 2004 where Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Jermaine Jenas and Emile Heskey were greeted with monkey chants every time they had a touch on the pitch. Spanish fans seemed to take their perceived racial purity, cemented by the inquisition of the 1500s to a disturbing extreme.

Spanish football has often times reflected the nativism and extreme insecurity of the nation. The reality is that Spain has been more consequential as a footballing power than as a political or economic entity until recently. Spanish coverage of football has for years reflected an extreme distrust of foreigners and a dislike for differing styles of football.

FC Barcelona, the Catalan club with a remarkable commitment to humanitarian causes is a notable exception to this history. Many elites in the Spanish media and Madrid have mocked Barca for its principled stand, but I will not: FCB represents what a football club should be in so many different ways.

I do not know the Italian language and have attempted at various times to read the language since I am able to read Spanish which is closely related. However, I am unable to pass judgment on the Italian press other than what I have been told by others. I have been told that the press in Italy suffers from extreme xenophobia and a hatred of other European leagues and national teams. Right wing causes in both Spain and Italy have used football matches as a way to organize and have at times been defended within The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. The experience of both nations in the twentieth century helps explain why. Both nations once embraced fascism masked as nationalism and have used football for years to promote nationalistic and political causes. elements of the local press.

In the United States, networks such as Setanta USA, and Fox Soccer Channel reflect an extreme bias toward the European game and against the American/Canadian game. Setanta makes no effort to build a localized viewership and instead appeals directly to British ex-pats and American anglophiles. Perhaps this helps to explain why so many local cable providers are reluctant to offer Setanta to their customers even at a premium rate which would offset the costs of carrying the channel.

Fox Soccer Channel is also anglo-centric. Although the network boasts Max Bretos, the most genuine American football voice around, his role on the networks original programming is almost completely marginalized to a token appearance here and there to discuss the American or Argentine scene. 

FSC’s Premier League centric focus has been the subject of other columns in the media. Writers more distinguished than myself such as Greg Lalas and Jack Bell have in the past pointed out the obvious about the network.

My biggest issue with FSC isn’t the lack of US based coverage, but how it is presented through an obvious Anglo lens. If Max Bretos or Christopher Sullivan aren’t calling a match or hosting a show, any discussion of the US National Team, MLS or USL is almost invariably biased.   Sometimes the FSC personalities cannot help it, but they view judge football in the United States by a British standard.

The concern I have about the European based press and the Anglophilia that runs through the above mentioned US based networks is that it skews the perspective of football supporters in the United States. American fans constantly tell me they will not go to their local MLS or USL game because it is an inferior product and they want to watch Serie A or La Liga. Many also tell me they do not watch the US National Team but can name every member of the English player pool.

While that is an individual choice, it does little to grow the game in the U.S. In fact as the David Beckham episode has taught us it can be counterproductive. When American based fans continue to mock the LA Galaxy’s highly principled stand and laud AC Milan’s selfish and insulting behavior, the problem of euro snobbery has reached a boiling point.

I’d urge those fans stateside who love European football yet ignore their own local game to reassess football in America. Those in Europe who are perplexed or offended by MLS and the Galaxy should broaden their horizons if for no other reason to enjoy and understand world football like never before.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

8 Responses to Avoiding Eurosnobbery

  1. Glubber says:

    Yeah, well, anyone who follows soccer in the US, but for whatever reason not MLS, is hardly going to convinced by this senseless rant.

  2. Joe Ashmore says:

    If you are counting Bild as a true representation of the German press you have already lost. Bild is the equivalent of the National Enquirer over here and likes to make sensational statements without journalistic content, much less checking its facts. There are plenty of German publications and websites that do however check their facts and give representation to all leagues. The Eurocentric view of some of the Media here is a byproduct of a lot of the Eurosnobbery practiced by many American Fans of the game, the same ones that will run to a Bar to watch EPL games between Hull and Chelsea even though they have no connection to those teams instead of supporting our domestic product. So blaming the media is fine, but there is enough blame with us American fans as well.

  3. eplnfl says:

    A wide ranging review of the European sports media Kartik. While American soccer media can not be compared to it’s European counter-parts, American basketball and baseball coverage can. At no time have I seen coverage of those American games reflect the extreme nationalism that you see reflected in the European soccer media. In both baseball and basketball the fate of the republic or civilization is separated from the national teams performance. The American outlook is that other nations are welcome to our games and we wish them well and if fairly beaten so be it. The nation will survive.( 1972 Olympic Basketball maybe the exception)

    FSC while rightfully promoting it’s major products of English and Italian football should give more air time to the USMNT and MLS. An English friendly gets more attention and build-up then a USA qualifier. Ok, the friendly maybe be on FSC, but building up US Soccer is building up FSC’s audience. So, FSC should put USA and Canada first. Wayne Rooney having a cold is not something us Yanks want to hear about. Tell us what Altidore, Adu, and Howard are doing on their club sides instead!

    Let me also say I greatly appreciate that many Canadians have supported MLS. I saw a TFC game in Chicago last year and the fans were great ( one drunk exception). I greatly support Canada being in MLS and want more Canadian teams in an expanded MLS. Ok, I’m from Chicago and raised on the NHL, but clearly the USA &Canada are in the same soccer boat. I would hope my friend Kartik will revise his views on Canadian teams in the MLS.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Kartik

    To some extent you make good points, but the way you go about it is a little over the top. Of course, European will be biased. Similar major publications and news networks have their own biases.

    Note that ESPN won’t even cover football news and their own on air personalitie takes pot shots at it. Note that the more prominent football commentators are Yes Men who seldom criticize the USSF and MLS status quo. The Lalas brothers would have been Pravda staff memebers if they were born in the USSR. I can’t believe you even mentioned the lesser of the two Sophists. (FSC’s Jamie Trecker deserves a mention as a man who doesn’t serve his audience the same USSF/ MLS kool aid.)

    Bottom line, the Euro view of US football stinks, and so does the “mainstream” coverage from the US as well.

  5. Jason says:

    Jonathan, you’re citing Trecker as a *good* thing???

  6. Brian says:

    Because I’m a Serie A fan, I tend to view the issue as Anglosnobbery not Eurosnobbery. I’ve lost count of the number of EPL fans who look down on Serie A, doesn’t matter that most of said folks that I’ve run into haven’t watched Serie A. For some, if it isn’t England, it doesn’t matter.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Jason

    Trecker is a much needed commentator among a sea of Yes Men that characterizes the US football media. There is a need of a person who will rock the boat from time to time.

  8. dave says:

    European football media is mostly interested in European football. What a shocking revelation.

    US-based football media that mostly covers European football is also mostly interested in European football. What another shocking and unexpected revelation.

    The rest is a bunch of ill-informed rambling about fascism and nationalism that frankly is not very helpful.

    I don’t think calling people names (“Eurosnobs”) is a tactic likely to attract more fans to follow MLS, USL, or the US national teams.

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