June 10, 2002

Does anyone see anything odd about this quote?:

"They have learned a lot in Europe as nearly all their players are based in France, but at the same time they have the speed and physical strength of the Africans," Pua said. "They are a very strong side."
It strikes me as odd.

posted by djacobs to soccer at 12:03 PM - 15 comments

why is that odd!? If you are looking for some kind of veiled racist undertone, get bent....people are too fucking sensitive. What he said was the truth...

posted by StarFucker at 12:22 PM on June 10, 2002

I don't really see anything odd about the quote. Perhaps Pua shouldn't have stereotyped African soccer players but I wouldn't call the quote odd.

posted by gyc at 12:39 PM on June 10, 2002

Having watched African teams for the last few world cups, I would say that speed is a definite characteristic of their teams. However, this does not mean that it is a genetic trait; it may just be that African teams choose the speediest players to capitalize on this aspect of the game. South American soccer, also, is a speed game.

posted by kafkaesque at 01:58 PM on June 10, 2002

it may just be that African teams choose the speediest players Just like Kenyans choose the speediest runners? Hmm. Maybe we should try that. The quote is fine. Africans do have speed. Scandinavians have upper body strength. Asians have more flexibility. There I said it and everything is going to be ok! Really!

posted by vacapinta at 02:11 PM on June 10, 2002

Even if the quote was meant as a generalization about Africans (and not merely a description of how the African teams play), big deal. There are a lot worse things to be called than fast and strong. Lighten up.

posted by Samsonov14 at 02:21 PM on June 10, 2002

Just like Kenyans choose the speediest runners? Hmm. Maybe we should try that. I wasn't trying to be PC, mr pinta, just thinking about the question. It is reasonable to think that given the choice between a slow, good finisher, and a speed player who was weaker on the finish, an African team might go for the latter if that was their strategy.

posted by kafkaesque at 02:25 PM on June 10, 2002

Sorry. I apologize for being snarky.

posted by vacapinta at 02:32 PM on June 10, 2002

No! *grabs decorative sword from wall* Have at ye, ye scurvy dog! *parries, thrusts* ........um sorry. Been waking up too early! (no problem, vaca)

posted by kafkaesque at 02:35 PM on June 10, 2002

It's a stereotype we see a lot in American Football where the African/African American QBs have natural "speend and strength" but the white quarterbacks have the "brains or smarts." It's clearly a racist attitude to claim that Africans have to travel to France to "learn" the game.

posted by djacobs at 04:29 PM on June 10, 2002

Lots of people have to travel to Europe to "learn" the game, knucklehead. They have World's best teams over there. Sheesh.

posted by Samsonov14 at 04:45 PM on June 10, 2002

djacobs, why didn't you just say what you meant to begin with?! i just know i could find you somewhere at some tofu cafe eating wheatgrass while you plan your next PETA protest... How about if no one says anthing about anybody ever again?! Will that be okay!? Why LOOK for reasons to get yourself and others upset!? Do you even CARE about the World CUP?!

posted by StarFucker at 04:57 PM on June 10, 2002

get bent ... people are too fucking sensitive ... lighten up ... knucklehead Where's all this defensiveness coming from? The way people are attacking djacobs for mildly calling this into question, you'd think we were all were tired because our klan meeting ran late last night. I agree with the larger point in regard to racial theorizing about atletic prowess -- compliments about the physical attributes of black athletes have often been accompanied by beliefs that they aren't suited for brainy positions like QB and coach. However, is that really what Pua is saying? He's the coach of Uruguay, not a team in Europe, and the sentiment he expressed has been made about American soccer players regardless of their race -- that they are better because more of them are playing in Europe. If a Japanese baseball coach said this about one of the Japanese teams ... "They have learned a lot in North America as nearly all their players are based in the U.S., but at the same time they have the speed and skills of the Japanese. They are a very strong side." ... would anyone think it was racist?

posted by rcade at 06:01 PM on June 10, 2002

'The black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair, but you also need white players in there to balance things up and give the team some brains and some common sense.' (Crystal Palace chairman Ron Noades, speaking in 1991.) Now that's racism. Pua saying they've learnt from playing in the French league is only saying that the French League is a lot higher standard than league football in Senegal. I think people are looking for bigotry here where none exists.

posted by squealy at 06:29 PM on June 10, 2002

Rcade, I can see what you're saying. And djacobs, I'm sorry if I was insensitive. I was reacting not only to what djacobs said in this thread, but was also influenced by his attitudes in this thread and this thread. It just seems like djacobs is looking for sleights about minorities in the news, and frankly, I think he's looking a bit too hard. A quote like the one that squealy posted above is something to talk about. The ones posted by djacobs seem a bit forced. In the future, I'll make an effort to keep my comments free of knee-jerk taunts. I'd don't want to contribute to Sportsfilter becoming a place where personal flames become commonplace. I hope my reactions make a little more sense now.

posted by Samsonov14 at 06:56 PM on June 10, 2002

There's little doubt that to do well at international level, you need players who are experienced at playing their club football at a high level. For the moment, that means the top leagues in Europe: Spain, Italy, England, Germany, France, and Brazil and Argentina. It's not racist to point out that African players do seem to have natural physical strength and speed, after all, who was the last gret sprinter or heavyweight boxer who was white? It's also not racist to point out that players who play ther club football in lesser leagues may lack the "know-how" to win at the higher levels. It is racist to think that African players lack that "know-how" for genetic reasons. Apart from Tunisia, practically all the African players at the world cup play their club football in Europe, so it's unlikely they lack the brains or "know-how" to do well at the world cup. It's like saying basketball players will improve for playing in the NBA.

posted by salmacis at 07:04 PM on June 10, 2002

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