Bias in sport reporting is systemic. The view from afar.

By Christophe Jost

I do of course appreciate that you may get bored by Untold’s crusade against what we perceive as the media bias against Arsenal.   And regularly, we get comments telling us to bugger-off, that Arsenal fans are sore losers, that it all evens out at the end, and other such general comments based on few if any facts.

For myself, being based outside of the UK, and reading my news on-line in newspapers on two continents, in five countries and three languages, my take on it may be different, and yet….

One of the outlets I’m reading daily is the Guardian. So far I’ve always felt that their news reporting was pretty even-handed and I have not found them contradicting the other major newspapers I read.

Their reporting is pretty coherent and so I trust them on a basic level. If I did not, I guess it would mean all newspapers are coordinating their reporting all the time and I’m fed up with the conspiracy narrative.

Then again, over 150 years ago Lincoln said you can fool some people some of the time but not all people all the time, and whis weekend I was left with this “AH HA” moment reading the Guardian.  For it seems that either the Guardian has separate entities with different editorial rules and ethics, or you cannot really trust them to deliver the news at all.

To see how I came to that conclusion you need to know that I’m a fan of the 6 Nations (or the “5 nations” as it was when I was a kid).  It was THE competition where fair-play was part and parcel of the legend. And having lived long enough in Paris, I’ve seen English speking fans before and after the games in pubs…and did not witness any violence or aggression or anger.  Rugby fans were (and I guess still are) a breed apart.

Anyway, ‘Les Bleus’, even as a non-Frenchman, somehow ended up to be ‘my team’.   And on my bucket list are all the rugby stadia and a game there watching Les Bleus.

Saturday night I settled down to watch the ultimate game, the ‘final’ between Les Bleus and England.   A French victory meant a Grand Slam on top of the trophy – with France beating each of the five other five nations: Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

So I had fun watching the first half; Les Bleus leading at half-time.  But tired out from a hard week’s work, I fell asleep at half-time and woke up Sunday morning cursing to myself and grabbing my iPhone to look up the result on the Guardian website.

To my surprise, I saw the headlines for each other game, including the score but none for the France-England game.   I then decided to get a coffee to wake up and go back to reading what I had overlooked.

No luck. Nothing looking like a result…a Sunday morning following the 6 nations ‘final’.

I went looking on my PC. Nothing better. I find headlines for Wales 21-22 Italy and a piece that is labelled: “Paris savours a France team worthy of gracing city of light”.

At that point I just switched websites and was immediately confronted with the final result on L’Equipe : France 25-13 England

The 6 Nations is Rugby’s Royalty event. Like the FA Cup is to the world of football. The one competition that is special.   And the Guardian HIDE the loss of England? I mean, words failed me.

This from the country having (supposedly) invented the concept of “fair play”, so much so that this phrase has been adopted by most other languages?

Yet as of Monday night, if you look-up the sports page of the Guardian, you’ve got two headers with six nations results: Ireland 26-5 Scotland and gain the Wales 21-22 Italy… but no France-England.
You’ve got to open the rugby union page to finally see France 25-13 England headline.

Yes, there are at least two articles in praise of the French team.  But none with the headline mentioning the Grand Slam or the result :

“Paris savours a France team worthy of gracing city of light”.
“French rugby in perfect harmony 18 months before home World Cup”

None telling you what actually happened: England lost and Les Bleus got a Grand Slam.

And now if I look at the PL reporting this weekend, I realise that what they do at the Guardian is report as fans, not as journalists.    So the one point about Arsenal and Aston Villa is the story of the ‘Legend’ Gerrard teaching Saka to behave…  No one asked him to comment about his team’s loss…
And no mention about the main story to the effect that Arsenal actually

a) won
b) cemented their claim on 4th
c) did not get crushed by the Pool! defeat
d) got a clean sheet with Leno
e) had Saka score Arsenal’s 2000th PL goal
f) are still are ‘invincible’ on corners this season

I mean it is not like there is a lack of angles.  And maybe there was a positive point or two to be made about Aston Villa ?

Instead, we get the comments of an ex player, prone to falling just because of the wind produced by an opponent racing by him telling a youngster to toughen up because he actually got hit repeatedly with no protection from the referees or VAR.

And his team is not going anywhere either. Just pathetic.  But meanwhile Leicester are seen as having a good chance to make it to European glory…by aiming for a 6th place….and 4th is not supposed to be a trophy by the way, do you remember that?

And West Ham will qualify for the Champions League via a Europa League win, and it is not such an issue they lost to Tottenham, as they were punching above their weight.  Take this comment for example:

” I am a bit annoyed that I am getting asked it, but also I’m quite pleased because it’s telling me we were seen as a side that was getting seen for top four. It should be put as – ‘how well have West Ham done to stay in the race until the last part of season’.”

Defeatism or realism from Moyes? Surely it was the latter: he is correct that “West Ham have been punching above their weight, and his attempt to manage expectation is entirely understandable.”
To quote an ex-Chelsea coach, would you not agree that in short it says, “failure?”

So Moyes gets excuses and explanations galore for his failure.

Then you read the next sentence

” It was also predictable that there would be a hangover from Thursday’s memorable Europa League win against Sevilla.”

So Arsenal just need to toughen up if they play just three days after playing Liverpool, but for WHAM it is an explanation, excuse. And Mr Arteta stating his unhappiness is criticised.  And yes, WHAM will make it to the CL!!

“Happily for the Hammers, they would get the best of both worlds if they can win the Europa League, booking themselves a place in next season’s Champions League via a different route.”

And then the Tottenham – West Ham live commentary in the Guardian, which is still online this Monday night, “Spurs move above Manchester United into fourth place, three points behind Arsenal but having played a game more. West Ham slip to seventh, six behind Arsenal but having played twice more. “

So there you have it. The Guardian sports section do not have journalists. They have “sports fans who write” but who cannot even read the PL table, who redact their dreams into fake realities, and who don’t talk about or ‘censor’ results they don’t like, and unlike those of us at Untold, get paid for it.

And they definitely have a grudge against Arsenal, whether this comes from one of them having been traumatised by an Arsenal win/event or they are just like windmills following the ‘trend’, acting like a mob.

As you can see from this week-end’s reading, there definitely is a problem at least with the Guardian’s sports section’s reporting.   And it is not an Arsenal issue. It is systemic.


One Reply to “Bias in sport reporting is systemic. The view from afar.”

  1. You should not be so surprised. It’s the same with their political reporting too, and this is not limited to the Guardian, but applies to all of the mainstream newspapers. Every newspaper has its allegiances in the worlds of sport and politics, and it has been that way for many years.

    In terms of politics, some newspapers have been known to change sides, but sports (particularly football) reporting does seem to be directed in a way that ensures that certain clubs will not get a fair rub of the green.

    This is particularly interesting when so many of these “journalists”, and their media buddies profess to support Arsenal, but in reality, can’t wait to stick the knife in.

    Interesting parallels can be made with the PGMOB stooge reps on TV (Walton, Gallagher, Poll, Webb). I would prefer to hear from Hackett, Halsey or Clattenburg, who could be expected to take a sensible stance regarding the farcical refereeing in the PL.

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