Race & Soccer – Racial Composition of Liverpool FC’s players

 Futbol/Soccer, The Bigger Picture  Comments Off on Race & Soccer – Racial Composition of Liverpool FC’s players
Nov 252013

Early last Saturday morning, I made my way down to Piper’s Pub on the Southside to watch Liverpool vs Everton, the famed Merseyside Derby.

Out of the 13 players who played for Liverpool (11 + 2 substitutes), 3 were black – Glen Johnson, Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses. That’s 23%.


Glen Johnson, LFC Defender

All told, Liverpool’s matchday lineup included 18 players, 6 of whom are black. That’s 33%.

Breaking it down even further, 6 of Liverpool’s full matchday lineup are British including the Welshman Joe Allen. 3 of those 6 are British black players. That’s 50%.

Going to the full squad, Liverpool carry 25 players. 8 are black. That’s 32%. There are 9 British players. 4 are black. That’s 44%. Here are the full squad breakdowns:

Race Count Percentage
White 9 36%
Black 8 32%
Latin 8 32%
British 9 36%
British White 5 56%
British Black 4 44%

I’ve read that roughly 25% of the players in the British Premier League are black. Certainly not all of them, nor probably even a majority, are British blacks.

Blacks make up about 3% of the UK’s 55 million residents. If you factor in people of mixed race, that number goes up to 5%.

Make of these percentages what you will. I leave them to stand on their own.

Jun 022013

One of the things I love about sports is comparing teams across disciplines. Who are the Dallas Cowboys of the NBA, the the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL, the Boston Red Stockings of the MLS. MLS? Oh wait, nevermind that.

Let’s do a comparison of notable English futbol clubs to American sports teams.

Liverpool -> Los Angeles Dodgers. Recent ownership troubles. Massive commercial potential only recently being tapped. Beloved in their communities. Long history of success but not exactly recently. Continue reading »

Jan 072013

Gabriele Marcotti tries to make the point on Soccernet that Liverpool FC’s Luis Suarez should have admitted his handball against Mansfield Town to the referees, if only to improve his reputation:

Suarez has a poor reputation in England, as evidenced by the fact that his propensity to go down easily means that, at times, he gets fouled and officials don’t give him the benefit of the doubt. This was a missed opportunity to polish his image a little bit, without any great cost or inconvenience to him. And, referees being what they are, you can’t help but feel that the next time there’s a controversial handball incident involving him, they’ll come down harder than they would otherwise.

Bollocks. Suarez has come so far in his role as villain that were he to have tried to give the goal back, the futbol intelligentsia would have cast it as a shallow and blatant attempt to curry favor with the English public and the referees in order for him to continue pillaging towns and killing babies with impunity, as he so obviously does. Not as a sincere attempt at sportsmanship in favor of gamesmanship. Continue reading »

Mar 012010

… or Emigration vs Immigration

It is, I think, endemic to the constitution of the USA that the issue of Club vs Country/Émigré vs Immigrant can sometimes be a difficult one, as concerned with sports. Ours is fundamentally an immigrant nation even if much of the populace is several generations removed from crossing the pond (or jumping the fence). What do you do when the country of your ancestry or childhood lines up opposite the one whose passport you hold.

That more FIFA World Cup tickets were purchased by denizens of the USA than any other nation is not necessarily a strong show of support for USA Soccer. It is as much an indication of the old-world loyalties that many Americans still carry. To Italy or Spain or Greece or England. To Nigeria or Ghana or Cameroon. To Mexico or South Korea or Brasil or Argentina.

For those who don’t have an ancestral horse in a particular race, they may develop an affinity for a country whose style (or women) they like or whose players ply their trade for the person’s chosen domestic club. Fernando Torres of Spain for Scousers. Didier Drogba of Côte d’Ivoire for Chelski’s. Kaka and Ronaldinho of Brasil for Real Madrid and AC Milan, respectively.

In a similar parallel, it was a bittersweet moment for many Penguins fans when Canadian Sidney Crosby flung the puck past USA goaltender Ryan Miller in overtime of the Olympic hockey gold medal game on Sunday. “At least it was Sid,” texted a friend of mine. But still others supported the Canadians outright to the exclusion of Team USA because of Sid, Jordan Staal and Marc-André Fleury. For my part, I supported Team USA but I’m not crushed that it was our Sid who delivered the hammer stroke. (And that once again Alex Ovagkin proved he is not clutch nor as great as Sid).

Though not particularly conflicted in ice hockey, I will admit to it in national team futbol. I’ll root for the USA but the Super Eagles of Nigeria truly claim my futboling heart even though I was only six years old when the family left west Africa. I don’t really know what I would do if the twain should meet in a match.

Does this make me less of an American or must I always root for the USA in such a trivial pursuit as sports? While political dissent is not automatically a show of dis-loyalty to one’s nation, we are taught that sports loyalties are more black and white. Yet, nationality isn’t so cut and dried an issue anymore.

In a globalized age, with so much movement of peoples to and fro, there is a certain malleability to our sporting and national identities, especially given the very founding of this country as a refuge for the “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore… the homeless, tempest-tossed.” To pledge allegiance to the USA does not mean, in my mind, to discard one’s past heritage because I believe I must find an America that is true for me. It is a fluid motion and a conversation that must needs continue through time.

Still, if you’re not gonna put a boot up my arse, I’ll gladly share some gari or fufu and goat stew with you this summer. Bring your own Yuengling or Malbec if you choose.

Mar 292009

By and large, I consider myself to be a fortunate sports fan. My teams generally do well. Two Superbowl titles, 2 Stanley Cups, 7 Sweet Sixteens, 1 Elite Eight, 1 Champions League, 1 FA Cup, Curtis Martin, Larry Fitzgerald, many others. And someday the Pirates will get to .500 and all of Pittsburgh will go nuts.

I think a reasonable standard of expectation for a fan is for one’s teams to be in the hunt, in any given year. Nothing more, nothing less. All the crazies who expect a title every single season can stay in Lexington or Tuscaloosa or the Bronx.

In any given year, I expect that the Steelers will win 10+ games and have a shot at the Superbowl. I expect the Penguins to make the NHL playoffs and have a shot at the Stanley Cup. I expect that Pitt basketball will make the Field of 65 and have a shot to make a run to the Final Four. I expect Liverpool FC to contend for the Premiership, Champions League, and/or FA Cup titles. Eventually, I would like to expect that Pitt football will win 8-9 games in most years and once every few years when the pieces fall into place, they should contend for a national title.

Pitt vs Villanova

But even with what I believe are reasonable expectations, you inevitably get heart-breaking losses. I don’t have to tell you which loss I’m “mourning” today. I would have to say that Pitt’s loss to Villanova ranks second only to Francisco Cabrera’s single for Atlanta vs the Pirates in the 1992 NLCS. Even the Penguins recovered from David Volek. The Pirates have never recovered from that loss.

Pitt basketball is a strong program and they’ll rebound, rebuild and contend again. I know we had a successful season. I’m proud of how they battled and banged with the big boys. We’ll be back. I expect it.