White ‘Keepers and Black Strikers: A Premier League inefficiency

Rasmus Ankersen is a man at the forefront of football’s so-called data revolution. A self-styled ‘high-performance anthropologist’ who wrote a bestselling book, The Gold Mine Effect, that aimed to unlock some of the ‘secrets of high performance,’ Ankersen has since become the Chairman of FC Midtjylland and a Co-Director of Football at Brentford – two clubs leading the ‘soccer analytics revolution.’ The Dane often espouses his belief that there are lots of inefficiencies in football that clubs can exploit, and it is here that this mammoth blog post begins.

The relationship between ‘race’ and sport is one that has a long history. It is my belief that that history continues, with black goalkeepers and white strikers still discriminated against at some stage in English football. This contradicts the findings of the likes of Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, who explain in Soccernomics that they believe English football to have been freed from such racial discrimination around the turn of the 21st century as a result of market imperatives forcing those in charge of football clubs to ditch their racial stereotypes and adopt a colour-blind perspective.

The statistics, however, beg to differ. When I counted the first-team squad players of the 20 Premier League Clubs and sorted them by position and skin colour, it is clear that there are very few black and non-white goalkeepers, yet a relative abundance of black strikers – which I believe fits like a glove the history of racism that has tended to depict the black man as the intellectual inferior yet physical superior of the white man.

Another of Ankersen’s mantras is that ‘talent exists, but it exists everywhere.’ I suspect that somewhere along the line there are black people with the potential to be elite goalkeepers and white people with the potential to be elite strikers who, because of society’s collectively inbuilt racial stereotypes that holds white people to be intellectually dominant and their black counterparts physically dominant, are unfairly overlooked.

Skin Colour GK

The bulk of this research was conducted for my undergraduate History dissertation at the University of Sussex – with the trend also observable in English Rugby Union, wherein 100% of the Fly-Halves in the 2014/15 Aviva Premiership had white skin, with just 62% of the Wingers sharing this trait – and I will commence with an explanation of the historical factors that led to the creation of the intelligence/physicality juxtaposition. The research of John Hoberman in his 1997 book Darwin’s Athletes was a particularly influential starting point, with Hoberman convinced that the modern perception of the black athlete as a superior physical specimen is ‘the legacy of racial folklore’ which saw black Africans considered the ideal candidates for slavery based on their perceived intellectual inferiority and physical durability.

The Origin of Perceptions of Racial Differences: 1700-1900

Although historians, according to David Cannadine in The Undivided Past, ‘cannot agree when race became an important form of collective perception, identity, ranking and antagonism,’ it was believed for centuries that human beings could be classified according to the sharing or absence of specific characteristics, with superficial characteristic differences held to imply fundamental personality differences. It was not until the middle of the twentieth century – and a decree in 1950 from the United Nations which officially held that a consensus had been reached by scientists that ‘‘race’ is not so much a biological phenomenon as a social myth’ – that such views transferred from the realm of respectable science to implausible dogma. Indeed, in the early years of the twentieth century, the historian Elazar Barkan has noted in the book The Retreat of Scientific Racism that ‘racial differences were regarded as matters of fact, not of prejudice. Race was perceived to be a biological category, a natural phenomenon unaffected by social forces.’

Such perceptions dominated the previous two hundred years of history, with the Enlightenment’s fixation with observable science heavily linked to the emergence of racism. Enlightenment thinkers posed a challenge to the religious doctrine of monogenesis – the view that all of humanity is commonly descended from Adam and Eve as laid out in the book of Genesis – and a new theory of ‘polygenesis’ emerged, which ratified ‘the notion that there were many different people inhabiting the globe… whose forebears may have originated at different times,’ with the differences, according to Cannadine, between such human population groups newly believed to be ‘bound to be absolute.’

The Enlightenment’s obsession with science meant that rankings were rife, with the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus credited with pioneering modern taxonomy, and widely attributed with having been the first to publish a classification of biological differences between the races. In 1735 Linnaeus announced there to be four distinct human races – white European, red American, dark Asiatic, and black Negro. Europeans were deemed ‘acute, inventive… [and] governed by laws,’ traits that imply intelligence and civility, whilst black Africans were contrastingly considered to be ‘indolent, negligent… [and] governed by caprice.’

The Scottish philosopher David Hume was early to the polygenetic bandwagon, and suggested in 1758 that ‘Negroes’ were ‘naturally inferior to the Whites,’ owing to his observation that black societies apparently lacked the features of advanced civilization. Many others followed in Linnaeus and Hume’s footsteps, with the likes of the French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc and the German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach having similarly contrasted white European superiority with black African inferiority. Leclerc offered a classification ranging from intellectually superior Europeans to ‘simple and stupid’ Africans, whilst Blumenbach’s 1775 book On the Natural Variety of Mankind came to the conclusion that there were five observable races. Blumenbach ranked ‘Caucasians’ – those of ‘a superior racial lineage unique to the inhabitants of Central and Western Europe’ (yes, this is the origin of the word Caucasian!) – at the head of affairs, with Mongolians, Americans, Malaysians and Ethiopians trailing in their wake.

The 1770s also bore witness to the development of craniometry, a scientific discipline that advocated the ranking of human racial classifications by means of the differing dimensions, angles and volumetric capacities of cranial cavity measurements. The discipline became popular across Europe and the United States, with Cannadine noting the result of this to have been a ‘proliferation of publications purporting to demonstrate that the foreheads of Negroes receded more than those of whites, and that their cranial capacity was thus significantly smaller, suggesting their brains were too.’ The discipline continued into the early decades of the nineteenth century and was taken as proof that there were indeed distinct races, and ones that could be ranked in permanence.

The impact of classification and craniometry was most fundamental upon the foundation of the notion of blacks having natural inabilities. Blacks and whites were posited to be irrefutably different, with a particular focus upon intellectual difference that saw the black man considered to be of inferior intelligence and civility in comparison to the white man. This perception of absolute difference between whites and blacks was not controversial among the upper echelons of white society by the end of the eighteenth century, with Thomas Jefferson, a noted advocate of individual rights and a Founding Father who went on to become the third President of the United States, having noted in 1781 that ‘the difference’ between blacks and whites was ‘fixed in nature.’

The polygenetic idea of ‘race as type’ – that of racial differences having existed from prehistory by one means or another – burgeoned throughout the nineteenth century as white people of a Western European origin came into increasing contact with other ethnic groups. The notion of black mental inferiority remained, whilst the nineteenth century also saw the notion of blacks as a naturally physically gifted race blossom, with the perceptions of biological difference between blacks and whites said by Hoberman have offered the slave owner ‘partial justification for the institution of slavery.’ In 1829, for example, a publication from the American South deemed ‘Negroes’ to be ‘not only healthy people, but robust and durable even in the swamps.’

The 1840s, meanwhile, saw the former British army surgeon Robert Knox set off on a lecture tour of northern England speaking on human history from a medical and anatomical perspective. The tour spawned an 1850 book titled The Races of Men, the opening passage of which stated: ‘That race is in human affairs everything is simply a fact.’ Knox was of the view that various races comprised separate species, different from each other both behaviourally and biologically. Europe, according to Knox, featured four major races of descending sophistication, headed by the Saxons who were concentrated in Britain, northern Germany and Scandinavia. Following the European quartet – that also included Celts, Slavonians and the Russ – were the Latins and the Jews, followed by a vast gulf, before the ‘Mongoloid’ and ‘Negroid’ races got their mention. The Negroid was held to be the inferior of the white in every respect, and, according to Knox, was ‘no more a white man than an ass is a horse or a zebra.’ Knox was far from ignored, with ‘his views on race,’ according to Cannadine, ‘more widely subscribed to than those of Marx and Engels.’ Whilst the then-MP and future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, himself a Jew, disagreed with Knox on the disparaging ranking of Jews, a general outlook was shared by the duo, with Disraeli led to note in the House of Commons in 1849 that ‘race implies difference, difference implies superiority, and superiority leads to predominance.’

This general trend of scientifically implying the objective mental superiority of whites and the comparable mental inferiority but physical robustness of blacks was carried forth by many others, with the 1850s a particularly fertile time for the espousing of such views. In 1851, the prominent southern American physician Samuel Cartwright wrote in DeBow’s Review, a publication read by many slaveholders, that ‘it is not only in the skin that a difference of color exists between the negro and the white man, but in the membranes, the muscles, [and] the tendons,’ with blacks commonly deemed to be ‘capable of great endurance under a burning sun.’ Hoberman has noted that ‘the construction of black physical vitality… has been a biracial enterprise,’ with both whites, such as Cartwright, and blacks having bought into the idea in the mid-nineteenth century. The African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote in 1854 that ‘the history of the Negro race proves them to be wonderfully adapted to all countries, all climates, and all conditions’ and referred to ‘powers of endurance’ and ‘malleable toughness’ as typical ‘Negro’ traits.

1855, meanwhile, saw the French writer Arthur de Gobineau – who became a strong influence on Nazi racial science – publish Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, in which racial characteristics were deemed to be ‘part of the immutable order of things.’ When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, the ideas of racial hierarchy tended to be ‘grafted’ on to evolution, with Darwin’s theory of natural selection utilised to argue that blacks were simply less evolutionarily developed than whites.

An 1860 publication by an American novelist claimed that ‘Negroes’ could not be overworked, whilst it was also believed impossible for a slave master to knock a slave to the ground, with black men’s skulls believed to be so thick that such an effort would break any white man’s fist. In the same decade, a Kentucky physician described black men as unsurpassable ‘by any people on earth’ in terms of their ‘muscular strength and endurance.’

In the 1880s, The Association of American Anatomists distributed a questionnaire asking physicians to ‘keep a careful record of all variations and anomalies’ between whites and blacks, and black males came to be ‘increasingly regarded as subhuman beasts.’ The psychologist R. Meade Bache posited the idea of the ‘law of compensation’ to explain the relationship between apparently primitive intelligence and athletic superiority, a belief guaranteed by the perceived faster reflexes of blacks, and, to the end of black physical superiority, the sociologist Kelly Miller argued in 1897 that black men were a ‘tougher and hardier breed’ than their white counterparts, with the physical ability to withstand ‘awful stress.’

Perceptions of Racial Differences in the Twentieth Century

The twentieth century can be identified as the time when these juxtaposed perceptions first began to infiltrate sport, with the first three decades of the century, before racial science met its demise, apparently crucial to the creation of the trope of the physically superior black athlete.

Hoberman has made the point that ‘colonial encounters around the globe produced many similar assessments of black male physicality and… appreciations of well-endowed black bodies,’ with two 1929 editions of the journal Human Biology featuring notable references by white authors to black physical supremacy. The idea of the juxtaposition between the relative typically intellectual strengths of whites and the typically physical strengths of blacks are herein obvious, with the eugenicist Charles B. Davenport having argued that ‘the negroes are superior in some respects, the whites in others.’ The biologist Raymond Pearl, meanwhile, suggested that the Negro ‘appears to enjoy a greater biological fitness than the white race, while in other respects he is apparently distinctly less well adapted.’ The biracial aspect of the idea of the attribution of physical endowment to blacks was also apparent at this time, with an article by Charles Garvin in a sociological journal for African-American studies telling its readers in 1924 that, typically, ‘the Negro possesses biological fitness.’

Despite the rejection of racial classification by mainstream science from the middle of the twentieth century, the perception of the black man as intellectually deficient did retain its salience in some quarters throughout the twentieth century, Matthew Syed writing in Bounce that Henry Edward Garrett, a psychologist at Columbia University, wrote in 1963 that ‘[the Negro] has less… ‘abstract intelligence’ than the white man. He functions at a lower level.’ Garrett went on to add that ‘those black Africans are fine muscular animals,’ clear evidence for the continued perception of a juxtaposition between black intelligence and physicality. Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray’s 1994 book The Bell Curve, meanwhile, was roundly accused of intellectual luminaries such as Stephen Jay Gould and Noam Chomsky of doing nothing more than upholding antiquated racial assumptions by suggesting that ‘it seems highly likely that genes… have something to do’ with racial groups having differing average IQs.

The 1930s witnessed the emergence of the perception of black sprinting prowess at a time when racial science was in its final decade of widespread biological credibility, with the historian Frederick Lewis Allen noting in 1936 that ‘one of the most interesting athletic phenomena of our time is the emergence of… Negroes as the best sprinters and jumpers in the world.’ In the 1930s, four of the world’s top sprinters were black athletes,  and it was believed that there was a biological cause for this black dominance, with Lawson Robertson, a track coach at the University of Pennsylvania, suggesting that blacks were anatomically ‘built for speed.’ The Times, meanwhile, in the build up to the 1936 Olympic Games regarded this ‘fleet of flying Negros’ to be ‘scarcely’ beatable, with Jesse Owens, the fastest of the black quartet, going on to take the gold medal in the 100-metres, 200-metres, 4×100-metre relay and also in the long jump. According to Dean Cromwell, the leader of the American team at the 1936 Olympic Games, ‘the Negro does well… because he is closer to primitive man than white people… He has supple muscles and his light-minded disposition is useful in the mental and physical relaxation necessary for someone who runs and jumps.’ Despite the biological assumptions that accompanied Owens’s triumph, the anthropologist William Montague Cobb had already demonstrated in the January of 1936 that Owens had none of the anatomical traits which black athletes were believed to possess: ‘There is not a single physical characteristic which all the Negro stars have in common which would definitely identify them as Negroes… [Owens] does not have what is considered the Negroid type of calf, foot, and heel bone.’

Despite Cobb’s arguments to the contrary, and the fact that notions of a black biological proficiency for sprinting arose at a time when racial science remained plausible, such arguments were consistently reproduced throughout the twentieth century. Indeed, Roger Bannister, he-of-the-four-minute-mile who subsequently became a neurologist, made a 1995 speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in which he suggested ‘it is perfectly obvious, when you see an all-black sprint final that there must be something rather special about their anatomy… It may be that their heel bone is a bit longer.’ Specialist sports publications also devoted column inches to these theories throughout the century, with a 1971 Sports Illustrated article by Martin Kane and a 1992 Runners World article by Amby Burfoot titled ‘White Men Can’t Run’ reinforcing the notion of black sporting supremacy, with particular references to sprinting.

Indeed, the popular perception of a black advantage in sprinting was roundly criticised throughout the twentieth century by a number of academics for giving a pseudoscientific justification to thinly veiled racial prejudice, and thus offering credibility to the retention of racial stereotypes. Simon Barnes of The Times, meanwhile, noted at the 1988 Olympic Games that ‘a lot of people are waiting for black athletes to show some kind of human failing’ as if to assume that in tandem with their physical gifts would be some intellectual deficiency. Syed also noted that with regard to Muhammad Ali’s boxing successes in the 1960s and 1970s, ‘it was Ali’s capacity to shatter the stereotype of black intellectual inadequacy that shook up the world, not his ability to shatter white men’s jaws.’

Now we come to football. The case of Brazilian football evidences the global salience of the perceptions of black natural sporting ability but intellectual deficiency, with the prominent mixed-race writer and politician Henrique Coelho Neto having argued in the early decades of the twentieth century that if Brazil was going to prosper as a footballing nation, ‘a new breed’ of mixed-race Brazilians that combined the supposed intellectual and physical properties of whites and blacks would be able to ‘leave behind their dismal cultural heritage,’ and perform as sporting missionaries of the new Brazil. This ‘mulattoism,’ according to the Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, enabled the Brazilian football team to blend ‘characteristics such as surprise, craftiness, shrewdness, readiness and… individual brilliance and spontaneity’ en route to finishing third at the 1938 World Cup in France where the team’s ‘Black Diamond’ striker Leonidas da Silva was the tournament’s top scorer. The Australian author Peter Robb has written that Freyre’s argument enabled Brazil to consider itself a nation ‘where all races flourished and racism was extinguished,’ although the notion of the footballing mulatto blending supposedly black ‘physical capital’ with white ‘shrewdness’ is testament to the dominant and pervasive perceptions of the juxtaposition of black mental deficiency with physical and sporting proficiency.

British football in the twentieth century is also a fertile hunting ground for anyone seeking to find twentieth century examples of the juxtaposition of the black man as a natural athlete yet intellectual deficient. In the 1960s and 1970s, Syed has written that ‘blacks were considered to lack the mental sophistication to undertake the creative role of playmaker,’ a view shared in American football, where ‘there was a long-standing view that blacks lacked the intellect to cope with the demands of such high-profile positions as quarterback,’ with blacks deemed too intellectually limited to run an offence. In Soccernomics, meanwhile, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski wrote that by the 1980s, ‘racism had been more or less taken for granted’ in football, with the ex-captain of both England and Liverpool, Emlyn Hughes, declaring on national television that black players ‘haven’t got the bottle’ for the rigours of elite professional football, with it popularly assumed around this time that black players would ‘cave in under pressure,’ meaning that ‘you don’t want too many of them in your defence’ where their supposed mental deficiencies could be exposed.

The juxtaposition between the supposed mental and physical capabilities of blacks was also evident, with the former football manager Dave Bassett noting tellingly in a 2014 BBC radio interview that: ‘I had coloured players at Wimbledon in the ‘80s… [and they] contributed enormously, because they’re athletic.’ In 1991, Ron Noades, the then chairman of Crystal Palace, made an appearance on Channel Four in which he explained his ‘problem with black players.’ Whilst Noades suggested that blacks had good physical attributes – ‘they’ve great pace, [they’re] great athletes’ – he was quick to cast aspersions upon their mental faculties, as he stated that: ‘I don’t think too many of them can read the game.’

Psychological studies carried out at the end of the twentieth century, meanwhile, confirmed the continued presence of the perception of juxtaposition between back physical ability and intellectual inability, a relationship opposite to that presumed present within whites. A 1997 study led by Jeff Stone, for example, gave a golf-putting task to a series of black and white athletes, and found the performances of whites and blacks to be extremely similar. Before a second run of the task, however, the participants were informed that the challenge was one that measured ‘natural athletic ability,’ which led the white participants’ performances to deteriorate in lieu of them perceiving themselves to be naturally athletically inferior. 1999 research by the psychologist Claude Steele, meanwhile, gave a group of students a test that was described to be ‘a measure of their intellectual ability’ which saw white students perform substantially better than their black counterparts. However, when the same test was presented as a laboratory tool with no relevance to intellectual ability, the scores of black and white students were more or less identical.

The Modern Game: White ‘Keepers and Black Strikers.

Despite the findings of Stone and Steele, we are now commonly led to believe that racism has had its day, and is no longer present in English football. Indeed, many believe that the sport is now entirely meritocratic, with Jose Mourinho noting in 2014 on the lack of black managers in the game that ‘if you are good, you get the job… There is no racism in football.’

Kuper and Szymanski argue in Soccernomics that by the 1998/99 season ‘the economic forces of competition’ had ruled out stratification as the ‘white men’ running teams were driven to abandon their prejudices in the interests of winning football matches, with black players, before this point, having been undervalued in the transfer market. Scott Fleming and Alan Tomlinson, meanwhile, simply made the point in 1996 that ‘black players have become prominent in all positions,’ with the sociologists Ellis Cashmore and Jamie Cleland suggesting that the perception of football by the end of the twentieth century was of a sport entirely open to those of all colours, painting ‘a picture of declining racism across British football.’

The data that I have gathered from the webpages of the websites of the 20 Premier League Clubs that outline first team squads politely beg to differ. The technique used to order players is known as ‘stacking’ – whereby one simply counts each player by their position and skin colour, which enables the analyst to ascertain if there is a predominance of certain skin colours in certain positions or not. Whilst apparently subjective and arbitrary, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta points out its academic use in his book Beautiful Game Theory: ‘Consider… Ryan Giggs… It was only once he was well established in his career that he publicly discussed the fact that his father was black… This phenomenon came as a surprise to fans, since he himself looks Caucasian. It was unlikely that he faced discrimination as a professional player because discriminators prejudge an individual based on appearances.’

Following Jonathan Wilson’s reference to the common perception of the 1970s and 1980s that ‘black players were [deemed] all very well as forwards but… lacked the discipline and concentration necessary to be a defender… [a] racist assertion that was… presumably, doubly true for goalkeepers,’ with goalkeeping a position relatively extremely reliant on reading of the game, rather than on strength or pace. Rather than to repeat the bar chart, the raw data is as follows, with Chelsea’s Jamal Blackman the only black ‘keeper in the sample, with goalkeepers counted as ‘non-white’ including Tottenham’s Michel Vorm and Everton’s Tim Howard and Joel Robles:

PL Skin colour data

This is not to suggest, however, that all those who run football clubs are rampant racists, and select only black strikers and white goalkeepers by virtue of their overt racial preferences. The trend may be somewhat self-selecting, and emerge at a youth level, for example, with black children themselves, or their parents or coaches led to believe that they would be naturally better suited to play in an offensive position rather than a defensive one.

Following the globalization of the game, however, with overseas players predominant in the Premier League, I am tended towards the explanation that the stereotyping may be more likely a result of unconscious bias from scouts, with Kuper and Szymanski having noted in Soccernomics that scouts can often be found looking ‘for players who look the part’ and may accordingly presume a black striker ‘looks the part’ more so than a black goalkeeper or defender. This would also go some way toward explaining why just 3% of the black goalkeepers at the 2015 African Cup of Nations played in one of Europe’s Top 5 Leagues, as compared with 26% of defenders, 33% of midfielders and 29% of strikers.

Habitus: The vehicle of stereotype

The sociological concept of habitus may be used to explain the apparent presence of unconscious racism in modern English football, and it is this that clubs must overcome in order to increase the efficiency of their recruitment and ensure that they are not just signing players who they perceive to look the part.

According to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, habitus are ‘systems of durable, transposable dispositions.’ An individual’s ‘embodied dispositions’ such as tastes and perceptions, for example, are formed through habitual practice stemming, and continuing onwards into the future, from one’s early years, leading to the deep instillation of views of which one may not even be conscious. To formulate this concept, Bourdieu drew on the ‘yesterday’s man’ theory of Emile Durkheim, which posited that perceptions gained in the past ‘inevitably predominate in us, since the present amounts to little compared with the long past in the course of which we were formed and from which we result… [Yesterday’s man] makes up the unconscious part of ourselves… [whereas] the most recent attainments of civilization… have not yet had time to settle into our unconscious.’

Although Bourdieu based his analysis upon class distinctions, race theorists such as Samuel Perry and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva have applied the concept of habitus to explain perceptions based on race. Perry has noted that an individual’s location within a ‘racialized social system’ – as a society which has seen more than two centuries of reinforcement of the notion of black natural mental inferiority but physical superiority in direct contrast with supposed white natural attributes may surely be considered – will see the production of a ‘racial habitus’ that creates ‘a matrix of tastes, perceptions, and cognitive frameworks that are often unconscious and… tend to reproduce the very racial distinctions and inequalities that produced them.’ The durability of racial identities – as the attribution of the natural abilities around which this essay is focussed unequivocally appear to have been – are described by Jeffrey Sallaz as ‘past-in-present racial formations,’ with Perry continuing that ‘habitus is apt for understanding racial formation in that it postulates fundamental, embodied cognitive schemata through which we classify people around us.’ Gerhard Maré, meanwhile, has made the point that the natural qualities assumed to be derived from race may come to undertake ‘an illusion for ordinariness’ when they become sufficiently ingrained in the unconscious of enough individuals within a society.

Without explicitly using the notion of habitus, the historian Yuval Harari appears to have come to a similar conclusion in his description of ‘the vicious circle’ of cultural prejudice, which offers an explanation for how perceptions may become ingrained in a society. When perceptions become widespread, argues Harari, they tend to become self-fulfilling and thus lead to the continuation of such perceptions into the future.

To Conclude:

It is clear that throughout the twentieth century, the black man was often popularly regarded as the white man’s superior in terms of naturally endowed physical sporting ability – a perception that emerged following two hundred years of ‘scientific racism.’

Hoberman’s view that these perceptions are a legacy of racial folklore is a persuasive line of argument, with the racial science perceptions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as explored in this essay’s first chapter, appearing to match perfectly the phenomena of the twentieth century. Indeed, the racial habitus theories of the likes of Perry work to extend Hoberman’s view and offer a theoretical explanation for the understanding of how the legacy was able to remain despite the relegation of racial science from the realm of biological plausibility during the mid-twentieth century, following the UN’s 1950 decree.

Habitus may be applied to explain why these perceptions remain in elite English football, as they certainly appear to, thus serving to refute the perceptions of the likes of Fleming and Tomlinson and Mourinho, who, as noted in the introduction, have suggested there to be ‘no racism in football.’ Racism, it would seem, is an inefficiency that remains to be fully tackled.

Select Bibliography – Those books which most strongly shaped my thinking in this research.

Ankersen, Rasmus. (2012) The Gold Mine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance. (Woodstock, Icon Books).

Bourdieu, Pierre. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Cannadine, David. (2013) The Undivided Past: History Beyond Our Differences. (London: Penguin).

Goldblatt, David. (2014) Futebol Nation: A Footballing History of Brazil. (London: Penguin).

Harari, Yuval. (2014) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. (London: Harvill Secker).

Hoberman, John. (1997) Darwin’s athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race. (Boston: Mariner Books).

Kuper, Simon & Szymanski, Stefan. (2012) Soccernomics: Why Transfers Fail, Why Spain Rule the World and Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained. (London: HarperSport).

Syed, Matthew. (2010) Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice. (London: Fourth Estate).

Wilson, Jonathan. (2012) The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper. (Orion).


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