In the throes of World Cup fever, I was tickled that Google marked yesterday – the opening day – with a nifty soccer logo. Then I looked a little closer. Honestly, I don’t see too well at the moment, because my glasses broke in a weird, melting-metal, Salvador-Dali way, and my old specs are, well, not up to specs. But this was impossible to overlook.
Nary a POC (player of color!) in sight.
I’m still pleased that Google wanted to mark the occasion. I think the graphic is clever and dynamic. But really, I’d be surprised if there’s a single competitor whose side looks quite that pale. Perhaps somewhere there is a country called Sungoldonia, peopled wholly by pale-skinned creatures like myself. But if its denizens were all like me – pale and clumsy – why, they’d never be able to mount a team, much less qualify for the World Cup.
If you’ve been watching the gamesalong with me, you’ve surely noticed that most teams – not just the South Africans but also the French and English – prominently feature players of all colors. Even the presumptively “white” countries like Germany are starting to see the impact of immigration, however slowly. It’s all for the good – not just because inclusion is ethically right (though that’s obviously primary), but because we’re liable to see better Fussball! The Brazilians may be overrated … or not … but in any event the German roster includes Brazilian-born Cacau, as well as players of Turkish and Polish descent. While I don’t cleave to the idea that some ethnic or racial groups are “naturally” more athletic than others, I do appreciate that cultural differences spawn different styles of soccer. Mixing them is bound to create interesting hybrid styles.
(Photo of the German national team from FIFA; I claim fair use for the purposes of academic and cultural criticism.)
If even historical bastions of “racial purity” are starting – however hesitantly – to embrace multicultural teams, might it be time for all of us to wonder why “white” remains such an easy, lazy default? (And yes, I write this as a white gal who surely defaults to “white” more often than is comfortable to admit.)