25 June 2018

Africa: The Western Media and Its Biased Reportage Against African Teams

Photo: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA/BackpagePix
Scorer Ahmed Musa and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa celebrate Nigeria's 2-0 win over Iceland at a World Cup game in Volgograd.

The biased reporting by the Western media against African teams at the World Cup is disconcerting. The narratives espoused by some media houses paint the victories of African teams as undeserved. The commentators also judge the African players on physicality and not techniques or tactics. As Africans we must reclaim the narrative, and tell our story differently.

The Russia 2018 World Cup has come with its good, and bad sides. It has brought together massive solidarity of black people, Africans, Caribbean, and African-Americans all behind the African teams. But, it has also been followed with biased and racist reports from the Western media.

Africans in particular, and black people in general are hardly given enough credit for the work and achievements they make. It is disconcerting to note that at the ongoing World Cup in Russia, the victories by African teams have been undermined by biased reporting. Nigeria's win over Iceland was described by The Guardian with the headline "Nigeria's Ahmed Musa punishes wasteful Iceland to give Argentina hope."

The headline was met with a lot of criticism on Social Media, particularly on Twitter. Did Nigeria not play better than Iceland? Of course Nigeria outplayed Iceland, and the Super Eagle soared supreme because they were simply better. Musa scored two beautiful goals that could easily be ranked among the best in this World Cup. Why then did The Guardian frame the Super Eagles' victory as a result of Iceland wastefulness? It seems to accept and acknowledge the superiority of an African nation is something obviously difficult for the Western media to do.

Senegal's victory over Poland was followed by BBC's headline that read "Senegal capitalise on poor defending in 2-1 win over Poland." Downplaying the victories of African teams, as if they didn't deserve to win is downright wrong. One then asks, at what point do Africans get the acknowledgement they deserve? Never. The importance of celebrating ourselves first, can't be overemphasised. If there is anything to take from this World Cup, it is that Africans have to stick together.

The narrative by commentators in the games played by African teams emphasize more on the physicality of African players as against their tactics or techniques. The match between Senegal and Japan was described as Japan's brain versus Senegal's physicality. Alious Cisse, Senegal's coach however said, "The physical quality of Senegal versus the technical quality of Japan... I won't describe it that way." For other commentators, the Senegalese team isn't the usual African team because of how it is disciplined. One is forced to ask, how do these people really see us? These tropes are the same which are used against Serena Williams.

Hopefully, Africans will seize back their narrative and how they are represented to the world, not just in politics, but also in sports.

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