On the surface, Chelsea’s victory against Rennes in the Champions League a few weeks ago was one of those disposable, check-box drills that complete the group stages of the competition. Chelsea, heavy favorites – a team with better financial firepower, a deeper team and wider ambitions – cruises to a win.
Beyond the score, it seemed too short to miss. And still he likes sports Tuesday’s return match in France, Was rare not only in the Champions League, but also in European football overall.
Shockingly, disturbingly, these may be the only two games in the Champions League this season in which both teams played the role of a black goalkeeper: 28-year-old Doddard Mendy, and Alfred Gomis, who were replaced by Chelsea, in September. On Rennes.
Some sports are quite level playgrounds that they consider themselves. Black quarterback Were once rare in the NFL as were black entrants Tennis championship And Golf majors. Soccer, like so many other sports, still struggles for black representation in leadership roles: there are few black managers, and very few black executives.
And, of course, there is abundant evidence that the game – in Europe, if not in the United States or Africa – dispels a deep-rooted suspicion towards black goalkeepers, one that lacks analysis, opportunity. Through the lack of has been allowed to fail and even the lack of acknowledgment.
Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana has told a story when an Italian club informed him that his fans would simply not accept the move to sign a black goalkeeper. There is another one about the former Premier League manager who, when presented with two potential new recruits, outright rejected a man who was not white. He said that there is no need to watch him playing.
For most of his career in England, former goalkeeper Shaka Hylop knew of the reluctant stereotypes that overshadowed him, and he still remembers the occasions when it was voiced. The day he and his teammates were waiting at the New York Airport for Trinidad and Tobago and an immigration officer – not quite realizing who he was – he was explained, at length, why black players didn’t make good goalkeepers.
Quite deep roots remain, however, borne out of the figure. Of Europe’s five major leagues, France’s 20-team length 1 – where nine black goalkeepers competed last season, and eight have already received playing time this year – is much higher. There are numbers at other places.
Prior to last week’s international break, 77 goalkeepers appeared in the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Riga for at least one minute. None of them were black. Last year, performances by black goalkeepers were similarly rare: only two of 92 men who played goals in Italy and Spain, and two of only 36 who featured in Germany.
The figures in England are almost striking. While Mendy has quickly established himself at Chelsea, five other black goalkeepers are currently registered in the Premier League squads, including United States international Zach Stephan in Manchester City, who have yet to start playing in the league .
Difference between the palate amount and the number of black goalkeepers Black outfield player Elite leagues across Europe are such that it is difficult to write it as coincidence or as an illusion of momentary snapshots. Black colored goalkeepers are undervalued in European football. Africans are also more unusual.
Every year, for example, there are dozens of players on rosters in Europe’s major leagues in the traditional powerhouse countries of West Africa. But all the first goalkeepers from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana still play in Africa. And while no African country has produced as many elite goalkeepers as Cameroon, who once played Jacques Songo’o and Thomas N’Cono to play Spain and Joseph-Antoine Bell for a long career in France. Was the current number 1 in the country. The goalkeeper, Fabrice Ondoa, has yet to leave Belgium’s top division for one of Europe’s marquee leagues.
Ondoa’s cousins - and national teammates – Onana, at least, play in the Champions League for Ajax. But only Senegal, with two goalkeepers – Mendy and Gomis – playing in the world’s biggest club competition, can confidently say that it has two goalkeepers competing at the highest level of professional football.
Mendy does not have a ready explanation for why this could happen. Perhaps, he said on his introduction as a Chelsea player, it had something to do with the sick “profile” of the players the coaches wanted. Others have different, more deeply rooted explanations.
Former Everton and United States goalkeeper Tim Howard said, “There used to be stigma attached to the idea of a black quarterback in the NFL.” “The idea was that they were not in the form of a brain. “
Howard sees an echo of the lack of black goalkeepers. Soccer has long considered itself a meritocracy – at least on the field – that has gone beyond the old, damaging stereotype. However, dig a little deeper, and maintain their dangerous effect. Black players are still Are statistically less likely to attack the central or central region, For example, and are more likely to be praised by commentators such as physical features Speed and power About more intangible qualities like “intelligence” and “leadership”. And rarely, it seems, have they been given the chance to play in goals at the elite European level.
Mendy accepts that it falls to him to help him eliminate the stereotype. All he can do, he said, “is the show I can really perform at this level, and maybe change people’s mindset on these things.” For those who have suffered the same bias, however, who spent their careers hoping to be agents of change, that is part of the problem.
Hislop, now a commentator for ESPN, is the current first choice goalkeeper for both the Zoms, Everton and England national teams in the case of Jordan Pickford. Pickford has undergone both scrutiny over the past few years for alleged technical flaws in his game and a hasty hankering. “Everyone makes headlines once in a while,” Hislop said.
The difference is that, whenever Pickford makes a mistake, “no one uses their performance to declare that white players don’t make good goalkeepers,” Hislop said. If Pickford made a mistake, then only the reputation belongs to him.
Black goalkeepers, Hallop argues, are not equally privileged. This was realized during his career, he said, as if each individual error was used as conclusive proof that all “black goalkeepers have mistakes.” And it didn’t just apply to him: he believed that when goalkeeper David James made mistakes with Liverpool, Manchester City and England, those errors were put in as supporting evidence for the stereotype.
He sees a parallel with black representation in other areas of the game as well. Hislop cites Les Ferdinand, director of football at Queens Park Rangers, who is currently in England’s second-tier championship. As soon as he was appointed, Hislop said, Ferdinand knew that his performance meant nothing more than just his reputation.
“If 80 percent of the white male directors of football in the league disapprove of the failure, it will not stop anyone from appointing the next white man,” said Hyllop. “But Les had to be outstanding to give shots to other black players.”
The same applies to the goalkeeper, in the eyes of Hislop, and forms a self-fulfilling circle. Former Cameron Carlos Kamini, who spent the bulk of his career in Espanyol, Spain, said he believed the lack of black goalkeepers was not “a form of racism”.
If a goalkeeper is good enough, Kameny said, one of Europe’s major clubs will sign him, and he supports Mendy’s Chelsea arrival as evidence. For Kamini, the problem is very simple. “There are not enough black goalkeepers who are good enough,” he said of a series of WhatsApp messages.
However, those two things are not unrelated. Hislop said the problem is not simply that coaches are less likely to give black goalkeepers a chance to show off their talent, but that black players have fewer role models who testify that they can succeed. “They don’t have precedent to follow,” he said.
He is, at least, hopeful. He named black goalkeepers in the United States, a country and a football culture, where Howard, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson and now Stephan have effectively killed the stereotype, and where Andre Jake of Philadelphia – a Jamaican international – took the name has gone Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year.
More relevantly, Hislop cites Brazil as evidence that stereotypes may disappear. For a long time – and despite Compelling evidence to the contrary – It was held as gospel truth that Brazil did not produce high quality goalkeepers.
“Everyone in Trinidad and Tobago also considers themselves a fan of Brazil,” Hislop said. “And they will always say that Brazil didn’t make goalkeepers. But now you have Allison and Ederson, two of the best in the world. Nobody will say that again.”
Prejudices can be exposed, unspecified or not. Vicious cycles can be stopped in their tracks, or can even be reversed. Mendy, Gomis, Onana and the rest can help in the process. Of course, the shame is that they have to do it.