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The Economist ruffled the feathers of social media users and football fans on Wednesday after calling the Italian football team’s apparent lack of diversity as the “most noticeable” feature of the squad.
Italy defeated England in the final of the Euro 2020 on penalties on Sunday and took the championship cup. The close match intrigued the fans, but The Economist seemed more concerned that there were no longer colored players on the field.
“The most striking aspect of the 26-man Italian squad before it hit the pitch was that there wasn’t a single player considered colored among their main competitors,” tweeted The Economist.
“The EURO 2020 final between Italy and England was remarkable, not only because of the clash of football styles in the game itself, but also because of the socio-political undercurrents that swirled between the two teams and touched on issues such as nationalism, internationalism and racial sensitivity,” wrote the Economist in the companion piece.
The outlet also noted that the squad had been criticized for its “ambivalent” approach of kneeling as a gesture of the opposition to racism and that the sporting event “favored” the country’s right wing.
Critics were puzzled by the outlet’s narrative and derided the premise of the tweet.
“BREAKING: The Italian team consisted entirely of Italians. More at 11,” scoffed the Daily Caller.
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Based on the Economist’s narrative, others wondered if the outlet would publish a similar analysis of African football teams.
The Economist also referred to the racist attacks on British footballer Marcus Rashford after he missed his penalty to argue that “the big night of European football was not a big night for multiculturalism”.
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Some football fans wish the media would just let them enjoy the game without getting political.
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In recent years, the media have campaigned for the fixation on race, especially in sports, which critics have described as one of the few non-political pastimes.