The Russia 2018 World Cup has come with its good, and bad sides. It has brought together massive solidarity of black people, Africans, Caribbean, and African-Americans all behind the African teams. But, it has also been followed with biased and racist reports from the Western media.
Africans in particular, and black people in general are hardly given enough credit for the work and achievements they make. It is disconcerting to note that at the ongoing World Cup in Russia, the victories by African teams have been undermined by biased reporting. Nigeria’s win over Iceland was described by The Guardian with the headline “Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa punishes wasteful Iceland to give Argentina hope.”
The headline was met with a lot of criticism on Social Media, particularly on Twitter. Did Nigeria not play better than Iceland? Of course Nigeria outplayed Iceland, and the Super Eagle soared supreme because they were simply better. Musa scored two beautiful goals that could easily be ranked among the best in this World Cup. Why then did The Guardian frame the Super Eagles’ victory as a result of Iceland wastefulness? It seems to accept and acknowledge the superiority of an African nation is something obviously difficult for the Western media to do.
Despite Senegalese fans bringing real colour to Moscow, the police are currently searching all their rooms – supposedly to find out why the fans are dancing so much. I kid you not. A sweep is going on right now, with a police dog in tow. #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/UuW5S1pIIZ
— Piers Edwards (@piers_e) June 19, 2018
Senegal’s victory over Poland was followed by BBC’s headline that read “Senegal capitalise on poor defending in 2-1 win over Poland.” Downplaying the victories of African teams, as if they didn’t deserve to win is downright wrong. One then asks, at what point do Africans get the acknowledgement they deserve? Never. The importance of celebrating ourselves first, can’t be overemphasised. If there is anything to take from this World Cup, it is that Africans have to stick together.
The narrative by commentators in the games played by African teams emphasize more on the physicality of African players as against their tactics or techniques. The match between Senegal and Japan was described as Japan’s brain versus Senegal’s physicality. Alious Cisse, Senegal’s coach however said, “The physical quality of Senegal versus the technical quality of Japan… I won’t describe it that way.” For other commentators, the Senegalese team isn’t the usual African team because of how it is disciplined. One is forced to ask, how do these people really see us? These tropes are the same which are used against Serena Williams.
Hopefully, Africans will seize back their narrative and how they are represented to the world, not just in politics, but also in sports.