England and the ‘WAG-infested chaos’ that proves sexism is still rife in 2023

Editor F365
Cheryl Tweedy and Victoria Beckham at 2006 World Cup
Cheryl Tweedy and Victoria Beckham at 2006 World Cup

Seventeen years after 2006, the media is still obsessed with the WAGs (please) of 2006 and are putting words in the England manager’s mouth.

We understand that after a week with England which has basically featured a pair of the deadest of dead rubbers, the press pack is a little bored; they are desperate for a new angle.

It was a dull England squad playing a couple of dull games, with interest in new caps for Cole Palmer and Rico Lewis long dissipated.

So what next? Ask Gareth Southgate about a tournament 17 years ago in Germany in which he neither played not managed, of course. Ask him about 2006 and Baden-Baden, where England’s squad stayed close to their wives and girlfriends, who had almost as much fun as tabloid reporters and paparazzi.

And if you’re lucky, you get to stick pictures of some scantily-clad women on the back of your newspaper.

Online, The Sun of course play the WAG card:’

Gareth Southgate keen to avoid Baden-Baden Wag sideshow at Euro 2024 after Coleen Rooney and Co’s 2006 World Cup circus

He’s ‘keen to avoid’ it, is he? Or was he asked directly if England would be based in Baden-Baden and said: “Well, no. We need somewhere where we can be a little bit on our own.”

Did he talk about WAGS and ‘sideshows’ and a ‘World Cup circus’? Did he f***.

And for the record, England’s players stayed somewhere very quiet indeed in 2006…up in the Black Forest. As then-FA chairman Brian Barwick later said: “We thought it was as secluded as it could be. The hotel and training base were miles out of town. We were up a hill and I thought it was one of the most isolated places I’d ever been.”

The problem was that a) The England squad’s wives and girlfriends wanted to be in Germany and b) a lot of them were pretty bloody famous and attracted large swathes of media.

Did they cause England to fail at that 2006 World Cup? Did they balls. But The Sun are happy to make that connection 17 years on:

Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Tweedy, Coleen Rooney, Carly Zucker, Elen Rivas and Co arguably overshadowed Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side.

The Three Lions crashed out to Portugal in the quarter-finals on penalties following Wayne Rooney’s red card.

Stories of Wag partying and huge shopping bills were the talk of the tournament.

In The Sun, yes. They absolutely bloody lapped it up. We remember writing an awful lot about the football and absolutely nothing about ‘huge shopping bills’.

Over in the Mirror, we get this:

Gareth Southgate’s telling response to repeating infamous England World Cup mistake

His ‘telling response’ was to say ‘well, no’. What else was he going to say? There is literally no chance he would have said ‘yes, we will be staying in Baden-Baden’, even if he knows the real ‘England World Cup mistake’ was Rooney getting himself sent off.

MailOnline tease us with a ‘how’…

How Gareth Southgate hopes to avoid a repeat of the WAG circus which overshadowed England’s 2006 World Cup… as Three Lions boss sets out plans for his team’s HQ at Euro 2024

The ‘WAG circus’? In the words of one Mail journalist – Oliver Holt – several years ago: “The WAGs did very little apart from enjoy themselves in the way well-off young women would.”

That is all. And such a ‘WAG circus’ (f***ing hell, can we please retire that phrase?) will largely be avoided because this is 2023 and not 2006 and members of this England squad are not married to some of the world’s most famous women.

Gareth Southgate has targeted a secluded base in Germany next summer to avoid a repeat of the WAG circus that overshadowed England’s 2006 World Cup.

As ‘secluded’ as the Schloss Buhlerhohe Hotel, a 20-minute climb into the Black Forest mountains from Baden-Baden?

We expect no better from the tabloids but this is awful from The Times:

Gareth Southgate: Euro 2024 will not be repeat of 2006 WAG ‘circus’

Using the word ‘WAG’ in a broadsheet is reprehensible and using a 15-year-old quote from Rio Ferdinand and strongly suggesting it was said by Southgate is even worse.

We’re more than a little disappointed in The Guardian:

Gareth Southgate keen to avoid repeat of Baden-Baden circus at Euro 2024

He is not ‘keen to avoid repeat of Baden-Baden circus’; he just confirmed that England would not be staying at Baden-Baden because frankly that would have been a PR disaster.

The Guardian have obviously forgotten what actually happened in 2006, so we refer to a column from Marina Hyde to explain:

Without making wild assumptions you can be fairly sure this is the last foreseeable World Cup at which the players’ families and the reporters covering the England camp will be billeted together.

It was only an amusing FA gaffe which saw it happen on this occasion. On the one hand the result has been greater and beneficial communication between the two camps while, on the other – well, on the other it has produced a riot of censorious articles in some sections of the press which have essentially reminded us that working class people shouldn’t have money because they’re only vulgar with it.

It’s almost like the ‘circus’ came about because of the fame of the women and the proximity of the press. It was a toxic combination that absolutely will not be repeated, but it has f*** all to do with where England are based 18 years later.

We initially thought that Matthew Dunn had been stitched up by this headline on the Express website and had some sympathy…

Gareth Southgate lays down the law to England WAGs with Euro 2024 base decision due

It’s such utter horsesh*t that absolutely does not reflect the fact that Southgate literally just said that they would not be staying in Baden-Baden. The players’ families will still be in Germany and he cannot ‘lay down the law’ to a group of people who are not employed by the FA.

But all sympathy dissipated with this line:

One thing is for sure, though – Southgate will not tolerate the WAG-infested chaos of England’s luxury digs the last time they were in Germany for the World Cup in 2006.

The dictionary definition of ‘infested’ is ‘(of insects or animals) be present (in a place or site) in large numbers, typically so as to cause damage or disease’.

We have no words other than ‘blatant’ and ‘misogyny’.