Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Does Sacchi have a point?

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 11:00 PM

I'm talking sports this week, football to be exact. Before you start rolling your eyes and groaning, I'm also talking race and nationality, too. So there's got to be something in there for you. Now, there was a mini-firestorm last week when former Italian national football team coach Arrigo Sacchi was quoted as saying there were "too many blacks" in his country's youth system. Sacchi also said there were too many "foreigners" (so I guess he wasn't only singling out the 'brothers'). When asked to clarify his statement, Sacchi made it worse with curious sentences like "I was just saying that I'd watched a match in which there was a team that included four coloured boys."

Now the 'coloured' terminology he could have done without. That was daft. He tried to smooth things over by pointing out he always trained teams with persons of diverse colour and background. The cynic in me says that doesn't necessarily mean he liked the black players; it probably just means he knew they were really good and needed them to win. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

valid points

 

Sacchi did make some valid points, though. He suggested business interests now come first in football and he ain't wrong. Why do teams like Real Madrid buy popular players even though they have two or three men who already play that position? To sell jerseys of course. So what if a couple of youth team players don't get their chance? It's all about the 'green'.

Sacchi also said: "You shouldn't have squads including 15 foreigners." Now at the risk of being called a xenophobe, I see his point. There are only so many spots available in these teams. Suppose all 15 foreigners decide to play for the country of their birth rather than switch allegiance to Italy? How exactly does that benefit Italy, where they learned to play the game at an elite level? Former France international Laurent Blanc got into some trouble in his homeland in 2011 for suggesting (note, suggest) a quota system for youth players who have parents and grandparents from other countries. Blanc was upset that these players could thrive at the youth level, maybe even winning trophies, but then switch allegiance at the senior level, which they can do because of the aforementioned familial ties. I also see his point.

 

Boys and Girls' Champs?

 

Remember when Delano Williams (Turks and Caicos) and then Zharnell Hughes (Anguilla) won the Class 1 100-metre races at our Boys and Girls' Champs? They were eligible because they attended local high schools, but some people didn't like it. Personally, I had no issue with them. But maybe I would be less than thrilled if, let's say half of a local track powerhouse like Kingston College or Calabar was made up of non-Jamaicans. It's a tricky issue.

Like I said, Sacchi using words like coloured and black was unfortunate. But he isn't totally bonkers. And honestly, I don't think I am for agreeing with him either.

• Tell me what you think at daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com