Journal Article

The Auld Enemy?: Exploring the England vs. Scotland rivalry from the perspective of soccer fans


A longstanding and persistent rivalry is said to exist between England and Scotland in the context of international soccer. In this essay we seek to test common media representations emphasising division against the opinions of English and Scottish soccer fans themselves. The complexity of English views towards Scottish people both inside and outside of soccer is explored using examples from an online participant observation study with English fans. Moreover, the extent to which anti-English sentiment constitutes an element of Scottish national identity in soccer and society more broadly is also explored using examples from semi-structured interviews with Scottish fans on the topic of the rivalry between the two nations. We argue that via representations in the media soccer has both provided the context for reinforcing broader divisions between these neighbouring nations as well as creating specific memories in the minds of soccer fans that enhance divisive feelings amongst some English and Scottish fans. However, we also note the extent to which the stereotype of division is perpetuated by the media and how this is sometimes at odds with the views of both Scottish and English fans alike. We conclude that so long as the media perpetuate division between the two nations in a simplistic manner the reality of the complex and evolving relationship between Scottish and English fans will remain unclear and misunderstood.

Attached files


Whigham, Stuart
Gibbons, Tom

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Sport and Health Sciences


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-11-10

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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