The England team that has made a stand by taking a knee – and much more

London, England, UK. 8 October, 2020. England manager Gareth Southgate during the friendly international match between England and Wales at Wembley Stadium. Credit: Mark Hawkins/Composed Images

Our senior consultant Andrew Weltch looks at Gareth Southgate’s England soccer team – a group of players who stand (or kneel) for something.

Win or lose in Sunday’s [July 11th 2021] UEFA European Championship final, there’s something undeniably special about this England team.

Manager Gareth Southgate’s Dear England open letter last month, explaining why his team ‘takes a knee’ to show its opposition to discrimination, powerfully spells out what patriotism means to him, and the responsibilty that comes with the England shirt.

“It’s [the players’] duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.”

He is a different kind of England manager – even avoiding the usual dreary cliches in his interviews.

He shows a level of intelligence and compassion rarely seen in professional sport (certainly men’s professional sport) and he has created a very different ethos in this squad.

By taking a knee before each game, they’ve knowingly alienated (and consequently been booed by) a noisy yobbish chunk of their fanbase.

They’ve also put themselves at odds with the government – both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to condemn those who booed the team.

And some even labelled them Marxists. But they took it all, and continue to do so, because they believe showing their opposition to discrimination is more important.

How much easier it would have been to do what many other national teams have done – simply make a statement opposing discrimination, or leave it to individual players, or just stand and clap.

But this isn’t a team that takes the easy way out. It has bought into that Southgate ethos around equality, inclusivity and racial injustice.

Last year, Marcus Rashford’s campaign highlighting food poverty – and drawing on his own childhood experience – led to the government changing its policy on free school meals.

And Raheem Sterling has set up a charity to help disadvantaged young people get into university and work.

Jordan Henderson’s simple gesture of wearing rainbow laces in support of LGBT+ rights is still controversial in some quarters. It would have been unthinkable a few years ago (and still would be for many national teams).

Whether they win or lose in the final, this is a remarkable group of young men. In fulfilling their off-field duty, as spelt out by their inspirational leader, they are already winners in my book.

Weltch Media provides a range of communications services for sports teams, organisations and individuals.

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Will these famous Hollywood faces really invest in Wrexham AFC?

Our communications assistant Sophie Platt (who happens to be from Wrexham) looks at the unlikely connection between her home-town team and two Hollywood stars.

Wrexham is a small town in the north east of Wales. It is home to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a world heritage site, as well as Wrexham Association Football Club.

Founded in 1864, the club is the third oldest professional soccer club in the world with its home, the Racecourse, being the oldest international football ground in the world still in use. The club’s first game, on 22nd October 1864, was against The Prince of Wales Fire Brigade which they lost 2-1. The club has continued to grow from here and has become a success and crucial part of Wrexham.

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What’s in a name? Five teams accused of causing offence with ethnic stereotypes

Our senior consultant Andrew Weltch looks at the recent heightened controversy over some sports teams’ names, accused of reinforcing ethnic stereotypes – and what they’re doing (or not doing) about it.

There are all sorts of weird and wonderful names in sports. Often they aim to suggest power and strength (Leeds Rhinos of English rugby league) or speed (Free State Cheetahs of South African rugby union) or both (San Jose Sharks of the NHL).

Those examples all come from the animal kingdom. But when a team picks a name inspired by the human race, it opens up (to borrow from the animal kingdom again) a whole can of worms, and potentially puts the cat among the pigeons.

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Graduating during lockdown

Sophie Platt Nov 2019Sophie Platt has combined studying for a degree in Media and Communications with working with us a communications assistant. Here she reflects on the challenges of completing her studies in lockdown.

Third year of university is famous for being one of the most stressful years of someone’s life. Imagine the stress of a global pandemic added to this. Online lectures and exams, waiting for help from lecturers, no graduation – it is not how students want their third year to go. The current climate is difficult for everyone, and as a (meant to be) graduate, I understand how difficult it is for people in university during this time. Continue reading

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UK universities face a crisis worse than Brexit

Already preparing for the negative effect of Brexit, the UK’s higher education sector is now facing a much more serious crisis – the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the prospect of the country leaving the EU without a deal. Our senior consultant, Andrew Weltch, reports. Continue reading

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It may have a website, but does that university exist?

College of Suffolk scamOur senior correspondent Andrew Weltch issues a warning about fake university websites.

At Weltch Media, we’re very familiar with university websites. Higher education is one of our specialist fields, and much of our writing is for clients’ sites.

Last year we worked with Swansea University to create the content for all its course pages and more –  and our work helped it to win awards. Continue reading

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The Hundred – the other side of the coin

Annie Chave (2)Guest post by Annie Chave, who questions the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) reasons for introducing The Hundred, a new extra-short form of cricket at the height of the 2020 season, and explains the ‘Oppose The 100’ campaign.

I have spent much of the last year trying to understand the reasons behind the ECB’s addition of The Hundred to the already overcrowded cricketing calendar.

I’ve questioned many at the ECB, including [CEO] Tom Harrison; I’ve debated with Bumble [David Lloyd, the former England international player and coach, now a TV commentator] and with Bryan Henderson [head of cricket at Sky TV] Sky Television’s support for the new competition and, spurred on by many other fans of County Cricket, I’ve openly expressed my point of view. Continue reading

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Still not tired of London and its ‘wonderful immensity’

buildings-car-city-1647120“… when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  Our senior consultant Andrew Weltch argues it’s probably as true today as it was when Samuel Johnson made the famous statement over 200 years ago.

For most people living in London or travelling in to work, it must seem mundane in the extreme, but for those of us who live further afield, a trip to London – even for business – can be quite special. Continue reading

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Unlocking creative potential in higher education marketing

Martyn Edwards Swansea 2019 Guest post by Martyn Edwards, Interim Director, Marketing, Recruitment & International at Swansea University.

This is always a pivotal time for higher education marketers – A-level results day [Thursday August 15] signals the start in earnest of Clearing.

The well-publicised and seemingly unrelenting on-going turbulence across the external operating environment, with adverse geopolitical as well as demographic headwinds, has resulted in a harsh new reality for UK higher education (HE) providers and the next 12 months are likely to be as demanding as the last for the majority of university marketers. Continue reading

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GB hockey facing the world’s best

For the first time in a quarter-century, Britain’s men’s ice hockey team is competing at the sport’s highest level, writes Andrew Weltch.

Team GB qualified for the top-flight world championship in Slovakia by winning Division 1A last season – a sensational achievement by the lowest-ranked team in a competition which included the likes of Hungary, Italy and Kazakhstan. Continue reading

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