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Euro 2020: Blacks in the European Nations’ Cup by Lambert Mbom.

The 2020 European Nations’ soccer jamboree enters its second phase today with the knock off round of 16. Given Europe’s checkered history with Africa especially with respect to colonialism and racism, it seems fitting to enjoy the beauty of the European competition within the backdrop of the current Black Lives Matter Movement and anti-racial sentiments. How is Europe fighting racism, neocolonialism through its much-coveted soccer competition is a question whose answer is blowing in the wind.

It seems worthwhile mentioning in passing that the corporate world’s penchant or seeming pivot to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is not applicable to such realities. Notice that of all the teams participating at the European Nations Tournament there is not a single African coaching any of them. Fast forward to 2022 when Africa will hold a similar competition, the African Nations Cup and more than half of the coaches would be European and/or white and majority of the African players will be coming from Europe based clubs. One has often had to ask what is African about the African Nations’ Cup?

It seems fitting to attempt to scratch the surface of this million “M-PESA” question by looking at the players of the teams and the countries they represent. Today’s matches will feature four teams namely Wales vs Denmark and Italy vs Austria.

Wales

Wales is part of the United Kingdom that comprises England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Outside the world of soccer not much is known about Wales apart from its rich culture, especially its language. Interestingly, there is a Wales-Africa partnership detailed in the following document: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-11/wales-and-africa.pdf According to this publication, “Wales has been developing and deepening community or institution based links and partnerships with sub-Saharan Africa”

“The African community in Wales, which hails from a number of countries including Somaliland, Nigeria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, plays an important role in building and sustaining these relationships particularly through the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel. A significant and increasing number of people come from sub-Saharan Africa to work in our health and social care services often maintaining strong links with their homeland.”

“To this end, we fund and partner with a civil society partnership operating under the umbrella of Hub Cymru Africa who are able to offer that critical support and tailor it towards different specialist groups ranging from bodies operating in health and education to those working on climate change and equalities issues to diaspora groups”

The current Welsh squad has two players with African genealogy namely Ethan Ampadu who is the son of Kwame Ampadu and is of Ghanaian parentage. Born in Exeter, he currently plays for Chelsea while Benjamin Cabango born in Cardiff and has Angolan heritage. There is Tyler D’Whyte Roberts of Jamaican heritage too.

Denmark

The roster of Denmark has one African namely Yussuf Poulsen 27-year-old born in Copenhagen to a Tanzanian father and a Danish mother. He currently plays for the German side RB Leipzig. There is a large presence of Africans in Denmark. There is a Danish embassy in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco and Nigeria.

History records reveal that Danes were involved in the slave trade from the mid-17th century until the 19th century. Randi Marselis notes in his essay “Descendants of slaves”

From the beginning of the 17th century Denmark took part in the Transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans by shipping them and establishing forts on the African Gold Coast (now Ghana). Later the colony of the Danish West Indies, was established on the three Caribbean Islands, St Thomas (from 1671), St John (from 1718) and St Croix(from 1733) and the slavery system functioned until emancipation in 1848. The Islands stayed under Danish rule until 1917 when they were sold to the US and renamed U.S. Virgin Islands. Due to the sale of the islands, Denmark has never received a substantial flow of immigrants from its former slave colonies as has been the case in Great Britain and Netherlands where descendants of enslaved Africans can be said to have formed minority group

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