I have been engrossed with the Women’s Football World Cup which took place last month. I was backing my team ‘Super Falcons’ (Nigeria) to make it all the way and upset the FIFA rankings. I have seen these women come into their own with skill, football intelligence, physicality and a flamboyant style of play. However, my thoughts and what I see on the TV screen is not reflected in the commentary and punditry displayed by contemporary media people. My team took the reigning European Champions to a penalty shoot out and all I keep hearing is ‘the fast break’ or ‘they’re really quick and physical’, when does this lazy punditry stop being placed on predominately non European players.
I recently read an article, “Beyond Clichés: Recognising the Skills and Intelligence of African and Caribbean Football Players” here is an excerpt from the article;
In the realm of football commentary and punditry, a disturbing trend persists—the portrayal of African and Caribbean players through narrow stereotypes of speed, power, and physicality. This practice not only perpetuates biases but also undermines the rich tapestry of skills, intelligence, and versatility that these players bring to the beautiful game.
While it’s undeniable that many African and Caribbean players exhibit remarkable physical attributes, reducing them to these traits overlooks their diverse talents. Skillful dribbling, precise passing, and strategic decision-making are just a few facets of their multifaceted gameplay. Pundits should recognize that these players have honed their abilities through rigorous training and experience, just like players from any other region.
Furthermore, intelligence on the field is often overshadowed by preconceived notions. African and Caribbean players frequently demonstrate tactical acumen, creativity, and adaptability that rival players from any part of the world. By pigeonholing them into stereotypes, commentators disregard the mental aspects that make them successful in high-pressure situations.
Media has a powerful role in shaping public perception. Instead of perpetuating clichés, pundits and commentators must showcase the holistic skills of African and Caribbean players. Celebrating their finesse, football IQ, and leadership qualities can pave the way for a more inclusive and accurate portrayal, enriching the narrative of the global game and fostering a deeper appreciation for the players’ contributions.
Written by Ladi Ajayi, Head of Sport at AKD.
Would you like to create a robust, actionable diversity and inclusion plan? Contact AKD sport team for more information firstname.lastname@example.org