|As I mentioned in my previous post, the media response to Euro 2008 in England was muted to say the least and the coverage which was dedicated to the tournament was tinged with schadenfreude and barely concealed bitterness. I realised after writing my first post from the island that I was basing this on a very small section of the media.
Knowing how the British press love to expand their daily editions into weekend tomes capable of stunning a Rottweiler, I though I would give them one more chance to show that they were actually getting into the spirit of things.
Against my better judgement, I picked up the Times again, hoping that their reputation for quality had just taken a dip on the day that I arrived. I was wrong. It was still full of Premiership-centric reporting and, worse, cricket. (One thing many soccer fans forget is that England's participation in summer tournaments helps to distract from the fact that the world's dullest sport is back for another season – cricket's return to sporting dominance is another extremely sad aspect of England's failure to qualify).
The Times had a nice picture of some Croatian rubbing Germany's nose in it AGAIN (despite the game having taken place on Thursday) while the back page was dominated by the story of Luiz Felipe Scolari's fantasy football shopping list for Chelsea. Turning the page, Big Phil was still Big News, enjoying a double spread which filled us in on everything from his reliance on a sports psychologist to how much meat the manly new Premiership celebrity eats (enough to put a fully grown puma to shame, trivia fans!).
Four pages in and the Euro 2008 coverage began – and ended. Crushed into three columns (with a tedious commentary on golfer Colin Montgomery on the side), the entirety of the European Championships fought for attention, dominated again by a re-hashing of the Germany defeat, as if to reinforce the view that losing to Croatia suddenly exonerated England from its own ignominious failure. Newsflash: It doesn't.
Perversely turning in hope to the tabloids, I was initially enthused by the glorious colour spread of what appeared to be an in-depth feature into Spain in the Daily Mirror. However, once past the flashy photos, the story actually centered on Fernando Torres and how great the Premiership is. "Nando", apparently, was going to "do the Premiership proud" by beating Sweden single-handedly that evening (Saturday). Far from doing so to ease Spain's route into the quarter-finals, the Liverpool striker was going to show that he plays in the best league in the world by leading the line for some sweaty little holiday destination which was apparently taking part in some kick-around with a bunch of other Johnny Foreigners in the place where they make Toblerone.
It appeared in most papers that Euro 2008 was just an excuse to give articles about English domestic soccer a new angle over the summer. Many seemed to be taking up the BBC's rallying call to support another nation by highlighting the progress of certain countries based on the performance of their Premiership stars. The BBC, who had tried in vain to drum up enthusiasm with their "Who Will You Support?" campaign on their web site, unfortunately forgot to send this memo to their TV presenters.
The lack of any interest and excitement in the tournament during the Beeb's television coverage has apparently been so obvious that the papers are starting to pick up on it. It seems that it's not only the print media which can't be bothered to do more than the bare minimum just because England aren't involved.
Apparently, according to one surprisingly pro-Euro commentary, the Beeb commentators are not only going through the motions but doing it in such a way to send those who are actually interested to sleep – or worse, to Sky Sports where the cricket is being shown.
I set the papers aside and hoped that I would find more support for Euro 2008 on the streets. More of that to come…