England boss Gareth Southgate at the end of the game against Iceland.
England boss Gareth Southgate at the end of the game against Iceland. Image Credit: Reuters

Fans were rightly excluded from a Uefa Nations League match that normally would have drawn a capacity crowd at the catchily titled Laugardalsvollur Stadium in Reykjavík, Iceland, on Saturday night.

The mighty England were in town for a Nations League clash that would not make tremors on the international stage, but would at least illustrate how both teams had progressed since the coronavirus pandemic closed down sport in March.


These were, after all, two teams with a lot at stake in ‘Group A’ of a very complicated competition.

What the rest of the viewing world did not expect — or avoid — was the swear words that were continually picked up on the pitchside microphones from the England bench.

Supporters must have been cringing during the broadcast — which did not have the normal piped-in football fan chants — and the viewers were able to hear every word hollered from the sidelines ... kind words or not.

The Uefa Champions League and Europa League finals in Lisbon and Germany respectively were managed in such a way to enhance the experience for the TV viewer by ‘piping in’ artificial crowd noise in the absence of the supporters’ actual presence.

That was not available during the match in Reykjavík and instead we heard every word from the touchline as England desperately tried to avoid a damaging defeat.

As frustrations grew and Kyle Walker was sent off, reducing the visitors to 10 men, the vitriol from the sidelines increased and was unfortunately all to clear for everyone to hear.

If such a facility is available in Lisbon, why not Reykjavík?

As it turned out England won 1-0 as Raheem Sterling’s late penalty conversion was not reciprocated when Aston Villa man Birkir Bjarnason sent a spot-kick effort over the bar to break Icelandic hearts. England saved face in the record books, but the language says otherwise.