By David Chalmers, writing from Scotland
Being based in the UK, it takes minimal effort to know what most media outlets focus on. The onus of every newspaper, magazine, website and television production is to devote most of their time to the Barclays Premier League.
Now without taking anything away from the Premier League, in what manner does it deserve to brand its own product?
And without disrespecting other European leagues, there is a quite clear elite number of leagues; the Barclays Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 are quite simply the cream of the crop; ‘Tier 1’, or however you wish to put it across. You might even say Portugal’s Liga Sagres and Holland’s Eredivisie deserve similar recognition.
Just after the Champions League Group Stage draw and former Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins boldly claimed that he “was afraid that Villarreal were going to be the whipping boys.” Isn’t that a bit naive of you Ray?
Villarreal are a club of great stature; in the past 7 years they have reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League and the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League (formely the UEFA Cup) twice. Yellow Submarines 1 Ray Wilkins 0.
Now the thought for this article was there before said events so this is not my particular point, but it vastly improves the substance of the article.
The British media is covered in megalomania and the self-indulgent, egocentric industry portrays, at times, unimaginable ignorance to the game abroad.
While lavishing superlative praise on it’s own brand and delivering hyperbole’s for breakfast, the coverage of foreign football is sparse; in fact in our newspapers you’ll be hard-fought to find anything on football outwith England and Scotland. Not even the Welsh or Irish leagues get a caring mention.
When an English or Scottish team is paired against a team from Sweden, Bulgaria, or European Country X as some publications might well see it, they are automatically regarded as into the next round - no need to play out the fixture fella’s as this one has been decided a walkover by our media.
We despairingly presume that Americans and Australians are poor at the sport because they call it Soccer; we arrogantly brush-off the hopes of ‘lesser-talented’ nations and their clubs because we’ve reached new levels of pretension.
It’s a travesty that we dishonour ourselves and other people in this way just to fill a word count.
What right does our media have to talk and write about teams abroad as if they are insignificantly second-rate nothings?
It’s something that has to stop; FIFA and UEFA, albeit in disarray, already patently loathe the British media and it’s nonchalant hubris. Before too long the entire world will be against us and we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
If the media decides to start being realistic and show greater awareness outwith the Premier League and England then Semi-Final appearances for England will be celebrated and not regarded as a failure if they don’t win it.
I hope that that the bubble will burst sooner rather than later and we can look towards equality in our media. Give a bit of respect to the foreign game and we’ll receive the same courtesy.
You can read more of David’s work on his blog, The Corner Flag