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Contrasting Representations of Englishness During FIFA World Cup Finals

Football and English national identity have been interlinked for over a century. The increased display of the St George Cross rather than the Union flag when the England team compete in international football competitions has been linked to a rise in a specifically English national consciousness. Academics have assumed this to be a response to advancing European integration and political devolution within contemporary Britain without providing much empirical evidence for such claims. However, evidence from qualitative discourse analysis of British daily newspaper coverage of FIFA World Cup Finals suggests that Englishness has always been banally depicted as a multifaceted concept in relation to football. First, Englishness has long been and still is used to refer to Britishness and vice versa in World Cup coverage. Second, World Cup football correspondents have often referred to strongly felt regional and local divisions within English society that coexist with the idea of an overarching English national consciousness. This paper forms part of a wider investigation into the complexities of defining Englishness through football fandom practices.