Why do English football fans sing “Sweet Caroline”?

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That changed in 2002, when a new executive vice president of public affairs, Charles Steinberg, convinced the control room to put the song on regular rotation.

“This song can have transformative powers,” recalls Dr. Steinberg, who is now director of sports communications at Emerson College and president of the Worcester Red Sox, having said at the time. “He may be able to take a melancholy crowd and cheer them up.”

He was right. Since then, “Sweet Caroline” has become a staple of Fenway games, regularly played midway through the eighth inning. And no matter how out of balance the score was, you could always count on the fans to sing along.

Mr. Diamond performed the song at Fenway in April 2013. The appearance – which was unexpected until the very last minute, according to Dr. Steinberg – was a gesture of solidarity in the days following the Boston Marathon bombing, when “Sweet Caroline” has become an unofficial anthem for a city shaken by tragedy.

“I just knew I had to be there,” Mr Diamond said, adding that his wife, Katie, had cold-called Fenway in a last-minute attempt to get him into the stadium before the game.

Then as now, opposing teams sang “Sweet Caroline” in solidarity after difficult times. In England, a country now betting on easing restrictions imposed earlier in the pandemic, the song’s buoyancy seems a bit cheeky, if not provocative.

“This one seemed to hit the button with so many people,” Mr. Perry said.

“It’s a song to celebrate good things, and it seems to bring good luck to those who embrace it,” Mr. Diamond said. “It’s also a song of unity and can bring together even the fiercest competitors. But of course I want England to win because I love the way they sing it so enthusiastically.


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