Euro 2021

The Italians are deluding themselves about the English

Not content with winning Euro 2020, many Italians have spent the days since the final engaged in a febrile orgy of moral supremacy. Italians are not just much better than the English at football, you see (which is fair enough, although they did only win on penalties), but many Italians are insisting, even more excitedly, that the Italians are much better people than the English. To which I, as a Brexiteer expat Briton who has lived amongst Italians for donkey’s years, have this to say: Si calmino, signori, si calmino! (Calm down dears!). The English football team have been branded as bad losers and cheats; their supporters have been labelled as rude, arrogant,

Football fans are rejoicing that Euro 2020 is finally over

Thank goodness that’s over. The Euros were fun and all that but now, please, can we get back to real football instead of this Disneyfied version of the game that brings out the best – and worst – of us? From little cars that bring the footballs on to the pitch to those toe-curling TV idents for Alipay and other sponsors, it’s time to put away the over-glorified spectacle of England losing and concentrate on watching real football with real football fans. That means getting depressed every other week instead of every other year; looking down our noses at anyone flying a flag from their car or eating popcorn at

Boris’s cunning has allowed him to share in England’s Euro 2020 glory

You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose. That was the formula of legendary New York governor Mario Cuomo and it served him pretty well over three successive terms in office. But it’s not quite right. Not these days.  What Boris Johnson appears to understand and Keir Starmer does not is that a key factor is whether you know how to campaign in pictures. We are a long way from an election campaign, but the natural Johnsonian flair for a compelling photograph is already being revealed as a massive advantage for him when compared to the dull visual output of the opposition leader. Becoming the leader most associated with the

Have Southgate’s England lost their moral compass?

Back in the 1980s the BBC Match of the Day opening credits featured a clip of Manchester United winger Mickey Thomas prostrate on the pitch. He raises himself up and gives a saucy wink to the camera. The implication was that he had ‘won’ a penalty and was cheekily acknowledging his successful deceit. Contrast with Raheem Sterling on Wednesday night. It’s generally accepted that if there was any contact between the England striker and the body parts of various Danish defenders swarming around him, it was minimal, and not enough to send him tumbling to the ground. And certainly not worth a crucial penalty. But Sterling seemed oblivious, no guilty

Euro 2020: It would have been a travesty if England didn’t win

England 2 (herringmuncher og, Citizen Kane) Denmark 1 (anotherherringmuncher) It was a penalty because the referee gave a penalty and VAR agreed. OK, Denmark? I wouldn’t have given it, mind. But then I would have given the absolutely stonewall penalty when Kane was clattered in the Danish penalty area a little earlier. Either way, it would have been a travesty if England had not won. They absolutely hammered the Danes for the last 75 minutes of the match: the game became a siege. Did the Danes have a single chance after their goal? I don’t remember one. I scarcely remember them attacking. I’ve decided I don’t like them and they’re

Sam Leith

The misery of watching England beat Denmark on ITV Hub

The tension in last night’s semi-final against Denmark was unbearable, wasn’t it? The early Danish goal – the thrilling equaliser – that penalty rebound! Every true Englishman had their hearts in their mouths. Even Priti Patel, I fancy, found herself reaching for a toothpick. But to those who were watching the show over the internet, it was a hundred times more tense. It wasn’t just: will we score a goal? It was: if we score a goal will I see it happen? The only means of watching the game, for those with Apple TV or a similar blessing of the modern age, was the ITV App. And by the climax

The surprising history of England’s three lions

English lions went extinct 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. So why will eleven Danish men – each dutifully sporting the ‘DBU’ roundel of the Danish Football Association – be facing tonight 33 embroidered images of panthera leo on the shirts of the England team? The answer has nothing to do with football, or any other sport in which the men and women of England’s national teams bear the three lions. It is, in fact, a throwback to the medieval battlefield, and the system of identification that allowed heralds to walk among the dead once the frenzy was over and catalogue the fallen. King Richard clearly liked lions far more than

Euro 2020: England shouldn’t get too excited

Ingerlund: 1 (Sterling) Czechia: 0 —
Croatia: 3 (people with name ending in ‘itch’)
Scotland 1 (Jimmy) A little better, solely because of changes in the team largely enforced upon old Horseface. Jack Grealish started because the hitherto largely ineffective Phil Foden is carrying a booking. Arsenal’s starlet Bukayo Saka was in the team largely because Mason Mount was in quarantine for having hugged a Scotsman (Never do it. Like handling a hedgehog, you never know what you might catch). These two players transformed England and between them created the game’s only goal, for Raheem Sterling. In that first 45 minutes, England looked quite competent, but then sat back on their lead

Euros 2021: Scotland have exposed the pointlessness of ‘taking the knee’

Scotland 0 Czech Republic 2 (Schick as a parrot, 42,52) Have you ever visited Carlsbad, now known as Karlovy Vary? I’d always had a faint hankering to live there, being hugely enamoured of what we once called eastern Europe, but I’m told it’s full of the most ghastly Russians these days. Maybe Slovakia is a better bet, somewhere near the Tatras. A Hungarian diplomat once asked me: ‘What do you call a Pole who speaks Hungarian?’ The answer – a Slovak. I like the fact they all hate each other, too. You should hear some Austrians when they talk about Slovaks. The mask slips and they begin to echo an

Euro 2020 and the search for a new Englishness

A soccer contest is upon us. I know nothing of football as a sport, but even a dunce like me knows that these things are about more than 22 men chasing a ball for 90 minutes. Big sporting events such as Euro 2020 matter, especially for England and Englishness. Any big England game is a rare chance for people to fly the flag and briefly talk about Englishness. But we need to do more than talk about this when the football team is playing. A proper national debate about English identity is overdue and badly needed. New polling from British Future this week showed that only two thirds of BAME

Ollie Robinson’s ritual humiliation

One of the more egregious innovations of Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution was something called the ‘struggle sessions’. This involved the ritual public humiliation of anybody the local bigwigs had turned against — often in sports stadiums. The elderly Yangtze swimmer would have smiled approvingly at what has happened to Ollie Robinson, the England fast bowler who was forced to read out an apology on the eve of his first Test match for some daft and obnoxious remarks he made eight years ago on Twitter. He has now been banned, and something with the sinister title of the ‘integrity unit’ is poised to investigate further. But investigate what exactly? Had Robinson

Rod Liddle

My advice to Gareth Southgate

This is a difficult issue to raise on the eve of a major football tournament, but as a progressive individual I am deeply disturbed by the England manager Gareth Southgate’s reverence for Sir Winston Churchill. Twice in the past this man who holds English football’s most important position has cited his apparent hero. Once, commenting on his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson’s performance at halftime in the 2002 World Cup quarter final against Brazil, he said: ‘We needed Churchill. We got Iain Duncan Smith.’ And then a few years later when asked if the England team should have a foreign manager, he said: ‘With England I want an Englishman who’s going to