Fans: Scottish Sun backs Croatia
The Scottish Sun has courted predictable controversy by issuing a rallying call to Scottish fans to back Euro 2004 underdogs Croatia who are in the same qualifying group as England.
The paper launched the provocative campaign with two successive front page splashes – “We’ve all gone Croazy” and “Here we Cro, Here we Cro…”, and by dishing out car stickers.
The issue of whether the Scots should support England or not has sparked off a major media debate north of the border and the subject of heated prime-time radio phone-ins.
The Scottish Sun, which is edited by Englishman Rob Dalton, has even given its reporters covering the story Croatian names in bylines – spearheaded by Darko Bolokic (Graeme Donohue), who was duly dispatched to Zagreb and Dubrovnik to soak up the local atmosphere.
The Scottish Sun’s deadly tabloid rival, the Daily Record, took an entirely different slant and carried a front page splash on a poll which revealed that a significant percentage of Scots would be supporting England in Portugal.
The Scottish Sun heralded its Croatian campaign with a lead editorial, saying that supporting Croatia felt right “as a surrogate team the Tartan Army could do a power of good.
“We are as similar in size and terrain as any two nations in Europe. And let’s face it, wouldn’t it be good for someone to bring down the big beasts of Group B.”
It has carried up to two news pages daily, including a picture and interview of Donohue being welcomed by Croatia’s UK ambassador Josko Paro.
The flip side of the coin came from Graham Spiers, chief sports writer of The Herald, who wrote that he was glad he would be in Portugal “before the cringe-making Scottish whining and bleating begins over England, TV commentators covering England, and ‘The English, in general.”
He noted with anguish: “There’s a noted knucklehead in my own sportswriting game who cannot stop himself from referring to ‘the English’ much in the way that other people might refer to ‘the Nazis’ or ‘the vermin’.
“It is a reminder that resenting England really does fester.
“This aspect of the Scottish cringe is everywhere: in magazines, in our newspapers, and most embarrassing of all, at BBC Scotland itself.”
Croatia meet England on Sunday.
By Hamish Mackay