Tag Archives: Football

Football commentators must address racial

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Live TV commentaries from top-flight games in England, France, Spain and Italy were analysed

There is “evident bias” in some football commentary relating to the skin tone of players, according to a new study.

In 80 televised games analysed across four European leagues, including the Premier League, players with a lighter skin tone were praised more often for their intelligence and work ethic.

Meanwhile, those with darker skin tones were “significantly” more likely to be “reduced to their physical characteristics or athletic ability”, such as their pace and power.

The research, conducted by Danish firm RunRepeat in association with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), concluded that the findings showed “bias from commentators”.

“The continuous praise for players with lighter skin tone for their skill level, leadership and cognitive abilities combined with the continuous criticism for players with darker skin tone is likely to influence the perception of the soccer watching public,” said the researchers.

PFA equalities executive Jason Lee told BBC Sport: “It was always important to collate information rather than just speaking about the fact we believe there is unconscious bias within sport, and across society really.

“If you’re describing two types of players, one is white and one is black, and they are both doing exactly the same thing and yet for the black player you are picking up on the negative side of it and for the white player it’s the positive side, what I mean by that is a black player will be perceived as having pace and power and aggression, and a white player will have ingenuity and creativity and determination, different traits, when it could be the reverse.”

This research comes amid pressure for the football industry to take clear steps to improving equality of opportunity and eliminating racial bias.

Lee added: “I think it’s damaging in the long term because when players leave their playing career and they go into coaching or managing, or want to be seen in a more positive light, people will have already built up this perception because for 10 or 20 years all you’ve heard of is that person is quick, powerful and aggressive, and you’ve not heard they are actually intellectual, articulate and [have] a quite different set of skills.”

We have to keep race conversation going – Deeney

How the research worked

The Racial Bias in Football Commentary study was based on English language live television commentary from 80 games during the 2019-20 season, split evenly between Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, Spain’s La Liga and the Premier League.

2,074 statements were analysed, which related to 643 unique players.

Rather than categorise players by race, they were coded according to their skin tone, using the database from the Football Manager 2020 video game.

Players were given a score from one to 20 according to skin tone and then designated as either “players with lighter skin tone” or “players with darker skin tone”.

Comments were categorised as being positive or negative, and opinions were analysed rather than statements of fact, which were used as the control group to see if bias was evident.

Key findings

The study found that commentators were “6.59 times more likely to comment on the strength of a player with darker skin tone” and “3.38 times more likely to comment on the speed of a player with darker skin tone” than lighter-skinned players.

In relation to intelligence and work ethic, more than 60% of praise was aimed at players with a lighter skin tone.

There was also certain attributes that were brought up more often for those with darker skin tones, including form.

But the researchers found that “differences are most stark when commentators are discussing physical characteristics/athletic abilities”.

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Brazil on a collision course with football

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Rio de Janeiro has become the epicenter of conflict over the return of football in times of coronavirus.

Brazil has suffered from the virus much more than anywhere else in South America, and Rio has suffered more than anywhere else apart from Sao Paulo. And yet it is the place where the ball is rolling.

The first national league due to kick off on the continent is in Paraguay on July 17 — Paraguay has suffered a total of 15 coronavirus deaths. In Brazil, the figure is closing in on 60,000, of which almost 10,000 have been in Rio.

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Needless to say, the decision to restart football in Rio has caused conflict. Local giants Flamengo, the reigning national and continental champions, were the main drivers behind the resumption of the Rio de Janeiro State Championship. They were in action 10 days ago, after which a halt to competitive play was called. The Maracana complex, where the game was staged, includes a field hospital for those suffering from the coronavirus. On the day of the game two patients in the hospital died, adding force to the arguments Flamengo’s rivals Botafogo and Fluminense that the restart was coming way too soon.

Those two teams were ordered to play on Sunday, and took the field under protest. Botafogo’s coach, the vastly experienced and highly respected Paulo Autuori, wanted to resign earlier in the week to avoid taking part, but was talked into staying. Fluminense forced a change of stadium after making it clear that they would not play in the Maracana, alongside the hospital. Three players of Volta Redonda, the opposing team, tested positive for the virus on the day of the match.

And the conflict is not likely to go away. The matches so far have been, of course, behind closed doors. But the local authorities plan to allow stadiums to be full to one third of their capacity from July 10, and two thirds from the start of August. The rest of the continent, still at the planning stage, seems resigned to playing behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

The problem is that it is not clear that the virus has passed its peak. Over the past few weeks a number of Brazilian cities have re-opened their economy. Some are already backtracking as the number of coronavirus cases increase. In a scenario where it would be advisable to err on the side of caution, Rio is taking the opposite road.

In part this is an attempt to force the kick off of the national Brazilian Championship, where early August has been penciled in as a start date.

CONMEBOL, the South American Confederation, might be happy with this news but there are also causes for concern.

With clubs all around the continent desperate for income, there is pressure for a quick resumption of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League. Brazil is a huge part of the competition, supplying seven of the 32 teams. The Libertadores, then, cannot restart until Brazilian football is back. The position of CONMEBOL is that the action can only resume once all 10 of the continent’s footballing nations have opened their borders, but it is clearly more important to have Brazil up and running than, say, Venezuela, which has just two participants.

But Brazil returning under these conditions — well before coronavirus is brought under control — is also a problem. For all that the teams might be willing to travel to play their matches, governments might not be so keen. Paraguay have worked extremely hard to reduce the impact of the virus. Would its health authorities be happy to see Olimpia in action home and away against Santos, or for Palmeiras to visit Guarani?

In these cases the two Paraguayan sides are up against teams from the state of Sao Paulo, the worst affected city in South America.

Unless there is a dramatic improvement in coronavirus control in Brazil, the Paraguayan government would surely be justified in viewing these games as an unnecessary risk.

And there is another headache on the horizon. The current plan is to kick off the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in early September. South America plays double headers, with all the teams in action both home and away over the course of a few days. This means that there is plenty of travelling for the European based stars. There is not only the trip over the Atlantic, but also a potentially lengthy journey inside South America.

This second part is particularly worrying. Would a European club feel happy releasing a star player for matches against Brazil, in Brazil or travelling through Brazil? Again, unless there is a dramatic improvement the answer must surely be an emphatic “No.”

And from Lionel Messi to Neymar, passing through Arturo Vidal, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez, the big names in South America’s World Cup qualifiers are almost all in Europe.

Brazil, and Rio football, is choosing to be an outrider in the way it deals with controlling the coronavirus. But the game takes place in a global context. Brazil can only get so far on its own.

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Espanyol vs. Real Madrid – Football Match Report – June 28, 2020 – ESPN

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Real Madrid‘s Karim Benzema produced an audacious back-heeled assist for Casemiro to score as they beat Espanyol 1-0 away on Sunday to capitalise on Barcelona‘s slip-up a day earlier and move two points clear at the top of La Liga.

Brazilian midfielder Casemiro slid to the ground to guide the ball home on the stroke of halftime after being played in by a stroke of genius from Benzema, who dragged the ball through the legs of the defender marking him to find his team mate.

Real saw out their slender lead for a fifth consecutive victory which gave them a two-point cushion in the title race over Barca, who were held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Espanyol, who were playing their first game under caretaker coach Francisco Rufete after he became their fourth manager of a troubling campaign, remain rooted to the bottom of the table on 24 points, 10 away from escaping the relegation zone.

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Newcastle United vs. Manchester City – Football Match Report – June 28, 2020 – ESPN

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Manchester City defeated Newcastle United 2-0 on Sunday to advance to the FA Cup semifinals.

Defending FA Cup holders City will next face Arsenal at Wembley on June 17-18 for a spot in the Aug. 1 final as they seek to add another trophy this season.

City secured the Carabao Cup in March and remain alive in the Champions League, which will re-start in August.

Kevin De Bruyne gave the visitors the lead in the 37th minute when he successfully converted a penalty. Raheem Sterling sealed the win in the 68th minute with a curling shot from outside the box into the net.

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