The Corner


‘Croatia’ in the Headlines, ‘Croatia’ in the News

Croatia players celebrate after scoring the go-ahead goal during the match againat England at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, July 11, 2018. (Carl Recine/Reuters)

Croatia won on Wednesday, but it was against England, so in English-language media the World Cup semifinal is being reported and chewed over from the perspective of the losing side. It’s touching that even the BBC is being a homer about it.

Since Thursday afternoon, the first news item that Google displays when I search for “Croatia” is a BBC article with the headline “World Cup 2018: Fifa investigates England chants during Croatia defeat.” It was a Croatian victory — or win, if you want to save space — but you can see the editors’ reasoning. They needed to refer to the game. If they could characterize it, so much the better, but headlines are like poetry: They must be compact. The ratio of mass (or meaning) to volume (the amount of space it occupies on the page) should be higher than in ordinary speech.

So what kind of a game was it? It was a “Croatia” game. What kind of a Croatia game? Well, which side were you on?

Click through that headline on the Google search-results page and you get to a squib of an article, 216 words, on a controversy having to do with English animus toward the Irish, who are to the Englezi what Serbs are to Croats, who are mentioned once, as incidental to the main story. And that is Google’s lead news item for “Croatia.” You have to hand it to the BBC for its search-engine optimization. Meanwhile, Google might want to refine its algorithms.

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