Intense debate about racial diversity dominates Euro 2022 finals

Intense debate about racial diversity dominates Euro 2022 finals
England's Lionesses have made it to their first final after years of near-misses, as they take on Germany at Wembley this afternoon.
2 min read
31 July, 2022
Comments about England's lack of representation have led to intense media debate [Getty]

Intense media debate around racial diversity in UK women’s football has surrounded the build-up to this afternoon’s Euros final between England and Germany. 

Temperatures rose after broadcaster and former pro Eilidh Barbour brought up the lack of diversity in England’s starting team on the BBC earlier in the tournament.  

“It was an historic eight goal victory for England last night as the Lionesses secured their place in the quarter finals. But all starting 11 players and the five substitutes that came on to the pitch were all white. And that does point towards a lack of diversity in the women’s game in England,” said the presenter. 

The BBC then received over 200 complaints from viewers accusing the broadcaster of ‘racism’ due to the comments made by Barbour. 

“I'll never understand why people think it's bad that the lionesses have nearly only white players...if the best English players happen to be white then you are going to choose them,” tweeted Alexandra Starck. 

Follow-up interviews with young black and brown footballers from around the UK highlighted how systemic challenges and lack of representation in the game place barriers in their way. 

“For some of us, we feel like there’s no point reaching to that next level” said one young trainee on Channel 4 News. 

And some commentators have been keen to point out that striving for more diversity in the UK’s footballing setup for women does not amount to criticism of the Lionesses or their success this year. 

“Visibility – or the lack of it – remains the biggest problem. I was doing some punditry for the BBC last week when the presenter, Eilidh Barbour, initiated a discussion about the Lionesses’ lack of diversity,” said former player Anita Asante. 

“The Twitter backlash – with many users assuming, wrongly, we were criticising Wiegman’s England – suggested too many people are in denial about our diversity problem,” she said. 

England and Germany will kick off play at 17:00 UK time on Sunday.