It wasn’t quite as bad as the Daily Mirror’s infamous “Achtung Surrender!” front page in Euro 1996 but some of the coverage of England’s exit from Euro 2004 bordered on the xenophobic. Referee Urs Meier was described as the “idiot Swiss ref” and the “Swiss twit”. The Sun suggested that Swiss goods, from Swiss rolls to Alpenhorns, should be boycotted by the British public. Meier was also exposed as a love rat for having cheated on his wife with a female referee.
The newspapers’ own ref, the Press Complaints Commission, never adjudicated on “Achtung Surrender!” but in its report at the end of 1996 gave the press the equivalent of a yellow card, stating that there had been “lapses” in editorial judgement.
The PCC said it recognised that “while there is a long and proud tradition in the British press of robust and nationalistic comment in support of British sportsmen and women competing in international sporting events, this has always been combined with an equally proud tradition, in such reporting, of tolerance and fair play towards others.”
Tell that to Urs Meier.