Football is the largest sport in the UK. According to Sporting Intelligence survey in 2012, 32.2% of premier league players are black whilst only 2% of the population in the UK are black. Paul Pogba is the most expensive footballer of all time playing for one of the largest clubs in the world.
Black players are thriving within football, especially within this day and age where black culture (mainly our music), is being used corporately to increase popularity and therefore revenues (see Man Utds unveiling of Pogba or their recent Adidas event in the US or Tottenham’s announcement of the new Nike kit). Unfortunately, corporations love using our culture but don’t care about our lives (but that’s another post for another day)…
As proud as I and most of the BAME population are, seeing our people at the top of the sporting profession, one factor that has left me puzzled is the lack of black relationships at the top. Naturally people of the same race pursue each other due to familiarity, cultural assimilation and social settings. But within Premier League football, Black-British footballers seem to buck the trend as most of their WAGs are white whilst African or Caribbean-born footballers, such as Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Alex Song and Raheem Sterling, are usually found marrying black women. Every World Cup or European championship year, the media will roll out their WAGs list and you’d be hard pressed to find a black woman present amongst the any of black players. Excluding Raheem Sterling and Ryan Bertrand, every single black member of the England squad for Euro 2016 had a wife or girlfriend who is white.
It seems to me that, in my opinion, this could be the case for one of three reasons.
- There may be a strong social influence. Within footballers high-end partying scene, it is predominantly filled with white women as black women (especially women of darker skin) usually find it more difficult to get into the high-end clubs that most footballers choose to spend their time at. In this clip, I lifted from a documentary on BBC3, a former promoter exposed some of what goes on within this party scene. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p037zfh1 Footballers Sex and Money: What’s gone wrong?). As you can see, some women actively seek romantic or sexual escapades with these footballers and those women place themselves or are placed in position to be picked up by a footballer. At these events as there are a lack of black women, which is probably also by choice rather than just forced as many black people in general have a lot of pride and so are less likely to throw themselves at anyone, it is unlikely they would be picked.
- In the environment they were raised, there was a lack of diversity around which can affect your preferences. People who are grew up in the same area to you, may have similar experiences to you which makes them an attractive prospect. For example, if you’re black and you live in Brixton, compared to if you’re black and live in Cornwall, it is likely you would find a partner of the same race. This also partially explains the increased likelihood of black footballers having black wives if they were born in a predominantly black country.
- The final and most controversial (potential) reason for this disparity is…Internalised Racism. This can cause black people to believe in part of the ideology of white supremacy, which in turn can be manifested in their choices of who they love.
These men can also stereotype black women as being ‘aggressive, loud, rude’ etc or even see them as purely sexual objects which, I assume doesn’t fit into many of their ideas for the type of woman they desire as long-term partner. Being a premier league footballer currently guarantees millionaire status, the average salary for a premier league footballer is £2M-a-year, many of these footballers can sometimes feel as though they are above ordinary citizens like you and I and so prefer a woman they believe will succumb to their demands and desires and play the role they believe a woman should play within the relationship with minimal fuss.
All in all, this piece is just me thinking out loud about observations made by friends and I over many years. I could be making ‘much ado about nothing’, however there are facts here that we cannot deny. Elite Black British footballers seem to prefer white women. Some of their relationships I’m sure are just based in the love two people have for each other. However, within the black race we are conscious that many of us suffer from internalised racism, due to the whitewashing of history and present-day beauty standards coupled with the dehumanising atrocity that slavery was, therefore deeper enquiries into observations like this aren’t uncommon nor without reason.
What do you think?
By Joshua Brown