Is the England team’s ‘ITV curse’ real – and should fans be worried?
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Tonight England face the United States in their second game at the 2022 World Cup and the game will be live on ITV, which should carry some caution for fans.

Sure, since the Three Lions lifted the World Cup in 1966, there have been a handful of semi-finals (and who can forget Le Tournoi?) but in all seriousness, it’s been a series of heartaches for every generation of England fans since 1966.

The anguish that England fans have felt for the last 50+ plus years has arguably been made worse, thanks to how readily available football is on television. Every single match at a World Cup and a Euros is on terrestrial TV in the UK and across two channels meaning that you’d have to try really hard to not even see a single minute of a major tournament.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Every year there is debate as to whether BBC or ITV provide the best coverage – but should we, as England fans, instead focus on which channel the team’s match is being broadcast on, to indicate how they might get on?

‘The ITV Curse’ is something that isn’t often mentioned by England fans, but it is real and something that England fans should be very concerned about, given that England’s semi-final is on ITV. Should they reach the final, that game will be broadcast on both ITV and BBC.

Fans were already concerned before England had even kicked a ball on ITV this winter.






This ‘curse’ was talked about during the 2018 World Cup when England reached the semi-finals. The match was shown on ITV and resulted in England losing 2-1 to Croatia. This, and the following third-place playoff loss to Belgium, upheld a staggeringly bad set of England results on ITV that stretches back to 1998.

To give you a better example of what we mean, we’ll just list the results of England matches at major tournaments since 1998 and include the channel they were shown in the UK.

World Cup 1998:

England 2 - 0 Tunisia - BBC - Won

Romania 2 - 1 England - ITV - Lost

Colombia 0 - 2 England - BBC - Won

Argentina 2 - 2 England - ITV - Draw (ARG win 4-3 on penalities)

Euro 2000:

Portugal 3 - 2 England - ITV - Lost

England 1 - 0 Germany - BBC and ITV - Won

England 2 - 3 Romania - BBC - Lost

World Cup 2002:

England 1 - 1 Sweden - ITV - Draw

Argentina 0 - 1 England - BBC - Won

Nigeria 0 - 0 England - BBC - Draw

Denmark 0 - 3 England - BBC - Won

England 1 - 2 Brazil - BBC - Lost

Euro 2004:

France 2 - 1 England - ITV - Lost

England 3 - 0 Switzerland - ITV - Won

Croatia 2 - 4 England - BBC - Won

Portugal 2 - 2 England - BBC - Draw (POR win 6-5 on pens)

World Cup 2006:

England 1 - 0 Paraguay - BBC - Won

England 2 - 0 Trinidad and Tobago - ITV - Won

Sweden 2 - 2 England - ITV - Draw

England 1 - 0 Ecuador - BBC - Won

England 0 - 0 Portugal - ITV - Draw (POR win 3-1 on pens)

World Cup 2010:

England 1 - 1 USA - ITV - Draw

England 0 - 0 Algeria - ITV - Draw

Slovenia 0 - 1 England - BBC - Won

Germany 4 - 1 England - BBC - Lost

Euro 2012:

France 1 - 1 England - ITV - Draw

Sweden 2 - 3 England - BBC - Won

England 1 - 0 Ukraine - ITV - Won

England 0 - 0 Italy - BBC - Draw (ITA win 4-2 on pens)

World Cup 2014:

England 1 - 2 Italy - BBC - Lost

Uruguay 2 - 1 England - ITV - Lost

Costa Rica 0 - 0 England - ITV - Draw

Euro 2016:

England 1 - 1 Russia - ITV - Draw

England 2 - 1 Wales - BBC - Won

Slovakia 0 - 0 England - ITV - Draw

England 1 - 2 Iceland - ITV - Lost

World Cup 2018:

Tunisia 1 - 2 England - BBC - Won

England 6 - 1 Panama - BBC - Won

England 0 - 1 Belgium - ITV - Lost

Colombia 1 - 1 England - ITV - Draw (ENG win 4-3 on pens)

Sweden 0 - 2 England - BBC - Won

Croatia 2 - 1 England - ITV - Lost

Belgium 2 - 0 England - ITV - Lost

Since 1998, England have won just five matches in 90 minutes that have been broadcast on ITV. The penalty shootout victory over Colombia in 2018 was broadcast on the channel but is technically classed as a draw. The 1-0 win over Germany at Euro 2000 is something of an anomaly as it was shown on both BBC and ITV.

Overall, before Euro 2020, England has lost nine matches on ITV and drawn 11. In comparison to the BBC, England’s record reads as Won: 14 Drawn: 3 Lost: 3. This gives England an impressive 70 per cent win rate on BBC, whereas on ITV it is a paltry 16.67 per cent.

So, is there any hope for England on ITV? Well, arguably their best-ever run on the channel happened 25 years ago at Euro 96. All but one of England’s five games (the 2-0 win over Scotland) that summer was shown on ITV including their famous 4-1 victory over the Netherlands and their penalty shootout win against Spain. In fact, England’s only other penalty shootout win (v Colombia, 2018) was also shown on ITV, so that’s at least one good omen.

Euro 2020 came with mixed fortunes for England on ITV. While the Three Lions have a 100 per cent record in the three games they played on BBC (vs Croatia 1-0, vs Germany 2-0, vs Ukraine 4-0), things haven’t been quite so fruitful on ITV but it’s hardly been a disaster. The 0-0 draw in the second group game against Scotland was a dismal encounter that hardly did much to inspire the nation. However, the 1-0 win over Czech Republic in the following match was much better. Then there was the tense 2-1 semi-final win over Denmark which was also shown on ITV. The final loss to Italy was shown on both ITV and BBC and as it was decided by penalties is technically counted as a draw.

Just for the record, here are those Euro 2020 results in full:

England 1 - 0 Croatia - BBC - Won

England 0 - 0 Scotland - ITV - Draw

Czech Republic 0 - 1 England - ITV - Won

England 2 - 0 Germany - BBC - Won

Ukraine 0 - 4 England - BBC - Won

England 2 - 1 Denmark - ITV - Won

England 1 - 1 Italy - BBC and ITV - Draw

Now it turns to ITV again to see if England can handle the Americans. Incidentally, the last time England played the United States at a World Cup it ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw in 2010 - a match which was shown, yeah, you guessed it, on ITV.

Of course, it would be preposterous to suggest that a nation’s performances over the decades are determined by what TV channel they are shown. The Denmark win in 2021 should be considered a landmark for this curse and shows that this England team doesn't crumble under the pressure of expectation or mythical curses but failure to win against the USA will no doubt get people concerned but the final group game, against Wales is on BBC so England fans can potentially rest easy.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)