Revealed: Why England and Germany REALLY hate each other

Whenever England and Germany meet in sporting clashes, it’s built up as a re-enactment of the world wars – mixed in with a replay of the 1966 World Cup final.

The roots of the rivalry can be found in the late nineteenth century – Britain had been the birth place of the Industrial Revolution but was overtaken by Germany as an economic and naval power.

The worries turned into a suspicion – fostered by anti-German MPs – that hundreds of German spies were flooding the country.

The 1903 espionage bestseller The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers told how the Germans were ready to invade Britain. It didn’t matter this was untrue – readers lapped it up.

But the First World War then cemented an image of Germany as a problem to all Britons – an emotion obviously further accentuated by the Second World War.

Of course, what really fuels the rivalry is that Germany has always been more successful at football.

And the countries do have a habit of being drawn against each other.

But as far as the Germans are concerned, Sunday’s game is nothing more than another sporting contest with no political connotations.

Although they tolerate the gung-ho English reaction, they are always slightly confused, even bemused, by it. It all stems from the fact the English view is stuck in a bit of a time warp.

British children emerge from education viewing Germany in terms of football and war.

Germans are more anxious to move on as part of a new, united Europe, whereas Britain is rather detached.

And although political relations are strong, perhaps the only way to engender a better Anglo-German relationship on the football field is if they let us win once in a while...

Professor Peter J Beck is the author of Scoring For Britain: International Football and International Politics.

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