on nationality, ethnicity and race – WM edition

We bought one of those overpriced magazines with every statistic, team/player bio, historical tidbit you could possibly want to know about this year’s World Cup, I mean FIFA trademarked sporting event. Unlike Craig’s minipop teams, pixelly yet accurate, this magazine had little icons for players that were racially awry. All of the Ivory Coast players were dark brown but their goalie was very pale. The rest of the African teams including Tunisia were all the same color. Saudi Arabia and France were both strangely all white. Funny since that’s not how they look on the field.

In May, after e-mailing a host of newsgroups to delete racist messages about German players, I was reminded how well events like the World Cup bring out questions of national identity for all to see and how little people are aware of their own country’s laws on immigration and citizenship. While business is business at the professional club level, when it comes down to representing a nation, it seems that the average European would rather have a blanc, blanc, et blanc team, rather than black, blanc, et beur.

In the media’s pre-game coverage of the Germany/Poland match, so much was ridiculously made of Podolski‘s and Klose‘s Polish heritage and language competence in Polish. They wanted to know what language they speak at home, will there be problems with divided loyalty, if they think Polish women are sexier than German women. Interestingly enough, both the Poldolski and Klose family immigrated under the Aussiedler law which covers people of German ancestry, allowing them to return to Germany and claim German citizenship. Since 96-97, passing a German language test is also necessary. German, but not German enough? Or too Polish? Maybe they know some hooligans? And these are white people… as the old saying goes, when white people catch a cold, black folk get the flu.

Kicker has at least come up with a temporary solution to the fear of a black planet: make your Wunschelf all white.

links: Football against Racism in Europe, Stand Up Speak Up (Nike and Thierry Henry)
(Go Ghana!)


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