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Football exposes inequities
Posted: Tuesday, July 4, 2006

By Linda Edwards

As an enthusiastic fan of the World Cup, I couldn't help but notice the inequities of the world as reflected on the soccer field.

Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Angola, Togo, France, Equador, Brazil and England fielded teams that were heavily populated with African looking people. For Equador, this was a surprise to me.

The spectators in the stands for these countries, except for Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago, were mostly non-African, particularly in the cases of France and Equador. I did not see a single African face in those crowds.

Were these players just mere gladiators - a different race put there for entertainment, were they merely paid labour? Japan had one African looking person, Alex. Who knew that there were African-looking Japanese people before this?

At one time, the game looked like a game at Brigham Young University in Utah, where the entire basketball team at one time was African looking, but they seemed like the only Africans in the school, run by the Mormons as a private university.

Soccer showed that in the field of human endeavour, eleven men against eleven men, in a ninety minute game, boils down to three things - Skill, Endurance, and Teamwork. Ethnicity has nothing to do with it. The ethnic composition of the spectators, however, still reflects the tremendous inequities of the distribution of the world's economic resources.

Or, maybe it is that African people in places like France and Equador do not like soccer that much?

In terms of listening to the comments on the game, I soon realized that when watching the ABC broadcast of the game I should do it with the sound off. The Western European biases of the commentators was quite annoying. It was not mere partisanship for Team USA, even where they were not a contender, or when they were no longer contenders, it continued. Teams from non-European countries were fighting an eleven, referees and biased commentators. Thank God they could not hear the commentators.

The inequities of the world remain basically unchanged. We will see if there is measurable change in South Africa in 2010. When I watch France play in the semi-finals, I am watching an African team, make no mistake about that. Seven of the eleven starters are African and if you include the Algerian, eight.

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