Ahead of the Euro 2020 final this Sunday, pitting England against Italy, the front page of a Scottish newspaper has created a stir by seeming to declare support for Roberto Mancini’s team, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
The Saturday edition of The National, a Glasgow-based paper, depicted the Italy manager as Scottish late-13th century national hero William Wallace, portrayed in the 1995 epic Braveheart.
The headline urged Mancini to secure victory so as to spare the Scots another 55 years of the English “banging on” about an international tournament triumph.
While the humour of the photo-shopped image and the cheeky headline was not lost on many, the internet reaction was split.
Some accused the paper of being bitter, and whipping up anti-English sentiment in Scotland, where plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence have been gaining traction. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been arguing in favour of a vote by the end of 2023.
Comments on social media cited “embarrassment” over the Scottish newspaper’s front page and denounced the spreading of “hate and division”.
I am embarrassed by this. I really hope our friends down south realise that this xenophobic attitude comes from a loud minority up here.
— Gary 🏴 (@MrGaryValentine) July 10, 2021
I understand Scotland not supporting England, you can’t really expect them to. But it’s ridiculous how far the Scottish Press will go to spread hate and division just to get scotland out the union. Literally exact same thing Nigel Farage did in Brexit.
— Miguél Smith 🇬🇧 (@Migu3lsmith) July 10, 2021
Pure separatist bile.
— British Alba (@BritishAlba) July 9, 2021
Embarrassing. Anti-Englishness at its worst. The mask has well and truly slipped. I’m a proud Scot but I hope Southgate and the boys bring it home tomorrow and give our neighbours and friends south of the border a great thing to celebrate.
— Geoff (@jmothecat) July 10, 2021
Absolutely embarrassing stuff. As a Scot I take nothing to do with this. My shoulders are chip free. Good luck England!
— stephen (@stephen89531107) July 9, 2021
The thing is you never know what’s “banter” and what isn’t anymore because of people like Nicola Sturgeon and her supporters.
— Junior from Tonga Fanboy 🇹🇴 (@tomaiba2) July 10, 2021
Others, however, saw it as “harmless football rivalry”.
I think it’s tongue in cheek very funny 😄
— John the Baptist (@JerryMu11944843) July 9, 2021
Love that this bothers 🏴 so much… 🤣🤣🤣
— Chris Edge (@ChrisEdge81) July 9, 2021
Cringy but least it’s massively tongue in cheek
— KiltyPleasure (@KiltyPIeasure) July 9, 2021
So do I but as a Scot I understand the rivalry – this is funny -where are peoples’ sense of humour
— Kathleen Thompson (@thompsonkf1) July 10, 2021
This seems a bit of banter to me.
— Anthony (@Anthony9277) July 9, 2021
And of course, there were memes…
The 2020 European Championship final on Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium will have some 60,000 fans, due to capped capacity over the coronavirus pandemic, arriving to watch England in their maiden Euro final, set to kick off at 19:00 GMT.
REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS
Soccer Football – Euro 2020 – Fans gather for England v Denmark – Piccadilly Circus, London, Britain – July 7, 2021 England fans celebrate after the match
The Three Lions, led by manager Gareth Southgate, booked their first final since winning the World Cup in 1966 by beating Denmark on 7 July, while Italy, after beating Spain on penalties in the semifinal, will be looking to secure their first European Championship title since 1968.