Gareth Southgate has warned his players and their families not to get involved in fly-on-the-wall documentaries around the World Cup after several of the squad’s partners were approached by a production company.
The proposed series would follow the England footballers’ loved ones before and during the tournament in Qatar and is intended to be screened on Netflix. Southgate made it clear he would regard any such commitment as a distraction and that he does not want to disrupt the family ecosystem developed during his tenure.
“It’s not my cup of tea really,” he said. “I’d be surprised if the group of players we’ve got would have an interest in that, because they’ve wanted to focus on football. The focus in Russia and last summer was all about the players and everything they do. We’ve never had any issues.”
England’s campaign at Germany 2006 under Sven-Göran Eriksson was famously contested amid intense focus on the players’ entourages, which contributed to a much stricter stance from Fabio Capello regarding their presence around the camp four years later. Southgate has struck a balance he and the squad are happy with and elaborated on it when the prospect of a documentary was put to him. He also expressed his distaste for a term that has accompanied much coverage of the players’ spouses and partners over the past decade and a half.
“We like to involve the families,” he said. “I actually think the term ‘Wags’ is quite disrespectful, it’s their partners and family; I don’t like the term. We want them to feel welcome and we invited them into the hotel when we could in Russia: mums, dads and kids.
“It’s a great feeling when you’ve the kids in, especially. It changes the dynamic of the hotel. We couldn’t do that last year [at Euro 2020] because of Covid. It’s one big family and I think everyone recognises that part of what we do has been very good over the last couple of years.”
There has been no indication regarding the series’ chances of getting off the ground and Southgate’s intervention may in effect nip it in the bud.