how sport maintains racial prejudices

The ethnical fencing of Paris-Saint-Germain, revealed by the "Football Leaks", recalls that the world of sport has often created a link between the color of the skin and the abilities acquired.

This is the other aspect of the revelations of "Special Envoy" e Mediapart on the ethnic profiling in Paris-Saint-Germain, from the "Football Leaks": racial prejudices remain widespread in French football. As if the "quota question" to the French federation had not allowed him to make his revolution.

In 2010, the national technical director questioned the limit of binary players to train and the diversification of hiring to be conducted in French football. Laurent Blanc, coach, complained that we always coach the same types of players: "What's at the moment how big, strong, powerful? The blacks And it's like that."

Erick Mombaerts, Espoirs coach, suggested "Addressing certain consolidated beliefs" and giving priority to play at the expense of individual performance. "But the game, of course, will be to integrate other types of players, because the game is intelligence, so it's other types of players."

In terms of established beliefs, here is one that has a hard life: blacks are sturdy but stupid like their feet and pungent whites but with a view of the Platini game. It was for fear of communitarianism and to look for profiles of different players that the PSG began to classify its recruits on ethnic criteria, according to club recruiters who testify anonymously to Special Correspondent is Mediapart.

These profiles, in the minds of the recruiters and their leaders, can not match the color players: "We were looking for players who bring a higher level of gaming intelligence"said one. "We were not looking for black, muscular profiles, etc. We were looking for players with an excellent game intelligence", adds the other.

Prejudices prevailing between recruiters and players

At the turn of the 2000s, Ligue 1 football has forged the reputation of the most physical championship in Europe. The possibility of winning a duel is "the" criterion for selecting a young person. This is before the passing game of FC Barcelona and Spain, symbolized by three players of 1.70 m (Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andrès Iniesta), conquer the world. This encourages French football, which has just removed a certain Antoine Griezmann from his training centers "Too small", to remove his blinders.

Ethnic diversification overlaps with stylistic openness. In the minds of trainers, since speed and physical strength are the prerogative of blacks, technical ease and tactical sense will be those of whites. This is what Sebastien Chavignier observed, author in 2010 of a sociology dissertation at Sciences-Po Paris about black players in French football, done by a field survey in training centers.

"These prejudices, often vague in their formulation, revolve around supposed" genetic differences. "These racist beliefs would explain the greater explosiveness or previous puberty of young blacks", explains in 2011 a release. These beliefs are also prevalent among players, including blacks, "Who, at the moment, consciously tried to adopt a style of play based on these qualities".

A French specificity? In 2009, the director of the Feyenoord Football Academy in Ghana, Karel Brokken, said So on foot : " I note that African players evolving in France all have this extremely physical profile. Unlike Belgium, where we find a little more diversity, including small and technical players. "

The African offering has adapted to the European demand, with few exceptions like the Ivorians trained by Jean-Marc Guillou: Gervinho, Bakary Koné or Salomon Kalou were not ice cream cabinets. In the most important leagues, blacks are overrepresented in central defense and underrepresented as directors.or 10 in the selection were placed of a lower level in their European club.

In rugby, the case of the islanders

We find this specialization in rugby, where it seems certain that a Fijian, a Tongan or a Samoan will line up with positions that require physical but not strategic power. The latter (rear, zipper, third-line center or prostitute) are almost never occupied by the islanders, on whom French rugby maintains unflattering clichés.

"There are real stereotypes but also a real difference in style, tempera Julien Clément, ethnologist and author of the book Physical cultures, rugby Samoa. Young Samoans continually play rugby, no matter how, and develop special abilities, especially one on one. When I learned rugby, I was told about the general situation, the general method, the observation of the game and situational intelligence. "

While the islanders do not consider the position of nor 10 as a deposit of the game, it is considered very strategic in France. "In France, you need to know the team's architecture to fill this position, so it's easier to integrate someone who is not used to the French game culture to less positions in the heart of the collective dynamic, so more on wings or melee"continues Julien Clément.

Quarterback or coach, strategic positions reserved for whites

American sociology has long observed a link between skin color and the role of a player in the field. In American football, "For a long time, the NFL has been segregated by the Post, said a world in 2016 Jeffrey Montez de Oca, professor of sociology at the University of Colorado. The closer we got to the center of the team and the decision-making positions and less black players there were. "

In America segregated in the years & 50s & 60s, the quarterbackThe leader and strategist of the team, mythologized in American culture, could only be a white man. Situation that lasted until 1970. Similarly, in baseball, blacks or Hispanics rarely evolve into the position of pitcher.

In basketball, where the position of director was quickly embodied by great players of color – Oscar Robertson in the '60s, Magic Johnson in the 80s – it was more their way of playing that was marked by prejudices racial. "Blacks were probably revolutionizing basketball, bringing a less codified, less structured, more improvised and faster game than white basketball players."says David Sudre, a sports sociologist.

The prejudices about the athletic dimension as a strong point (almost unique) of the colored players are more than ever questioned in the last years. As David Sudre points out, " the 3-point level of performance by players like Ray Allen and Stephen Curry shows that long-distance gameplay is not just a reserve for white basketball players ".

A "thinking" channel, mostly white

After a century of stereotypes transmitted by the sports press, some convictions disappear very slowly. This is evidenced by the marginal place occupied by black athletes in managerial positions. This phenomenon was analyzed by the American sports sociologist Earl Smith, author of Race, Sport and the American dream (2014).

The three explanatory factors, as summarized by Alexis Trémoulinas in French sociology review, I'm: "The shared belief that blacks can not govern and that only whites can be good managers, the consanguine nature of sports management in franchising and in sports facilities, the concept of" marginal man " (…) to show how American blacks participate in legitimate culture, but are still considered marginal. "

A phenomenon that is found in European football, where the entire chain of "thinking", from the chairmanship of the club to the identification, is predominantly white. An ethnic homogeneity that does not seem to worry the decision makers.

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