As others see us: 'Horrible Germans'

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The Independent Online
SHOULD we be annoyed with the English for withdrawing from a football match against Germany because they were worried it might have turned violent? Is it surprising that they opted for the safety of their team rather than an evening of football whose outcome was fully unpredictable?

There were plausible grounds for the cancellation. But would the English Football Association have been quite so firmly opposed to going ahead with the game on 20 April if the British public had not been permanently reminded by the media that this date happened to be 'Adolf Hitler's birthday' - and that consequently one had to reckon with a large turnout of German neo-Nazis?

How would it have been if instead of going on and on about the fact that Berlin's Olympic stadium was where the English football team once gave the Hitler salute in 1938, the commentators in the British tabloid press had looked for a more up-to-date reason for the cancellation?

The discussion over the England-Germany match is now closed. But it is difficult not to get the impression that the image of the 'horrible Germans' so carefully cultivated in some parts of the British media has also assumed an improper weight in the country's political life. The English decision . . . is not least a political one - and it is precisely that which makes the whole thing so embarrassing.

Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin daily

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