Day: June 3, 2014

British Television & The World Cup, Part One – A Difficult Birth

In eleven days time, the 2014 World Cup Finals begins in Brazil, and the eyes of the world will be watching. An estimated armchair audience of at least a gazillion viewers – or at least that’s how the size of the viewing audience will be spun by those with a vested interest in making sure that advertisers believe that improbably high numbers of people have been watching matches – will tune in, and it’s difficult for those under a pensionable age to remember a time during when this wasn’t the case. However, the Home Nations’ refusal to play in the first three tournaments coupled with the technological constraints of the earlier days of the medium meant that the first four World Cup finals were not shown at all in the United Kingdom. A dispute over payments to amateur players in 1928 – ‘broken time payments,’ by which loss of pay and expenses would be met – for those who played but didn’t make a living from the game – had led to the withdrawal of the home nations, and this meant that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all sat out the first three World Cup tournaments, even though FIFA did attempt to coax the FA, the SFA, the FAW and the IFA back into the fold. It took until 1946 for a little common sense to win through,...

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