A BBC pundit has sparked debate in the UK by criticizing a perceived lack of diversity in England’s women’s national football team at Euro 2022.
The tournament is currently taking place on English soil and heading into its final group matches.
After England’s record pounding 8-0 against Norway this week, Scottish presenter Eilidh Barbour chose not to dwell on the qualities of victory on a show the following evening, and instead sought to to poke holes in the racial composition of the England team.
“It was a historic eight-goal victory for England last night as the Lionesses secured their place in the quarter-finals,” Barbour conceded.
“But all of the 11 starting players and the five substitutes who entered the pitch were all white.
“And that points to a lack of diversity in women’s football in England,” she added, before introducing a segment on racial diversity led by black former Arsenal and England player Alex Scott and titled ‘Football Beyond Borders’.
I’m sorry, what? There is a problem with the England women’s team in the #WEUROS2022 too “white”? Which players should be eliminated because they have the wrong skin color? It’s just amazing that a BBC presenter can say that and still be in her job! pic.twitter.com/PBpOC8tMhs
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) July 14, 2022
Barbour’s remarks were widely discussed in the UK press and on social media, with a Daily Mail writer accusing the BBC of kicking off “Yet another attempt to stir up racial divisions in this country.”
“Any coach should definitely choose the best players in the team at any given time, regardless of their skin color or ethnicity,” it was suggested.
On Twitter, divisive breakfast host Julia Hartley-Brewer asked: “I’m sorry, what? There’s a problem with the England women’s team in that the women are too ‘white’?”
“Which players should be eliminated because they have the wrong skin color? It’s just amazing that a BBC presenter can say that and keep working!”
“What exactly does this presenter want the England manager to do if the 15 most talented/tactically suitable players for the game happen to be white?” asked another author of a separate popular article sharing the comments.
“Jeopardizing the score in the name of ‘diversity’? The BBC is a joke”, She has finished.
“It’s a racist comment and totally inappropriate in our time. People have been fired for much less,” remarked another viewer.
“The BBC is a waking waste of time. You don’t know why anyone watches it?” asked someone else.
A Football365 report looked for explanations for the perceived lack of representation, which revealed some interesting facts and observations.
For example, 43% of players currently plying their trade in the men’s Premier League are black, while in its women’s equivalent, the Women’s Super League, that drops to less than 10% or 29 players out of a total of 300.
With England heavily reliant on the Super League for players, it makes sense that there is therefore low black representation at international level as well.
Additionally, there are not the same support models in place for young female players, regardless of race, as there are for their male counterparts, leading to high dropout rates.
The problem isn’t just English either, with the cultural melting pot of the United States, whose women’s team is the most successful women’s international team of all time, facing the same questions as the Netherlands despite the fact that players of Surinamese origin dominate the racial makeup of the men’s national team. men’s team and club outfits.
Barbour’s comments came just days before BBC News was due to issue an on-air apology for mistakenly showing a picture of black Chelsea star Raheem Sterling when airing a segment about an unnamed male player of the Premier League who was recently arrested. suspected of having committed sexual offences.
As diversity rages on, the Lionesses will continue their Euro 2022 campaign by playing their final group game against Northern Ireland on Friday.
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