Is there a cap on the number of black players that can play for the England football team?

Dr. Yusuf Bangura: 6 December 2022:

I’ve just done a systematic comparison of the England teams in the Euros of 2021 and this current World Cup. It confirms my casual observation yesterday that there seems to be a cap on the number of black players in the current World Cup: they shouldn’t exceed three.

Southgate has not fielded more than three black players at any given time in the four matches played so far in this World Cup. Even when substitutions are made the number of black players on the field doesn’t exceed three.

This is the old, discredited informal cap on black players, which was criticised in the past by black fans and sympathetic commentators. It’s what I observed in the 1970s as a student in the UK watching the England team.

In the Euros of 2021 Southgate fielded four or five black players in each of the seven matches played. This represented a break with the past and recognition of the quality of black players in English football.

France led the way in the 1998 and 2018 World Cups when its coaches Aimé Jacquet and Didier Deschamps respectively fielded teams with majority black or non-white players and won the World Cup on both occasions.

In this year’s tournament in Qatar, Deschamps has fielded an average of six black players in the four matches France has played. Even Germany that doesn’t have many black players, fielded four black players in the three matches it played before going out of the competition.

France’s players attend a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines on September 20, 2022 as part of the team’s preparation for the upcoming UEFA Nations League. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

The question is: why has England’s manager – Southgate, reverted to the old practice of fielding a maximum of only three black players? Is it that only three black players are good enough to play for England at any given time?

When I watched the England team in the Euros in 2021, I thought England had learned from the French example of fielding as many black players as possible if they’re good enough to play.

The fact is that Black players constitute 43% of the players in the English Premier League. Surely, this includes non-British black players, but British black players account for a very high percentage of this number.

For more interesting views and analysis on this thorny question, please click on the links below:


  1. What is this race grifter saying!! Question- Why does John Keister have a ban on white players in the Sierra Leone national squad? … Answer – He doesn’t … He picks the best players, just like Southgate… This article is race grifting at its finest.. shameful!!

  2. Well that’s a question for Bio’s government and the Sierra Leone Football Association that have not only come under scrutiny for politicised that national organisation and been sanctioned by FIFA, the world football governing body ,and if my memory serves me right being under their radar for quite sometimes monitoring their activities over their bullying and harrasment of Isa Johansen ,the first woman to lead an African football association which sent many of our misogynistic male dominated body at the sports ministry in Freetown into a flying rage . Today she is doing a good job with FIFA because they have faith in her . She don’t have to put up a fight anymore like she did when she was the Sierra Leone football association president .At the time there was no doubt Bio and his men were sitting in State House pulling and tightening the scews on her leadership hence our county were at one point threaten with suspension by FIFA. You have to take your hat of to Ms Johansen , for fighting back against some of the SLPP government officials that were hell bent in seeking her displacement. If one wonders why we rarely perform on international sporting events , like Football , the Olympics , boxing and the rest , we know at the heart of the matter is the scwed selection process .Who is qualified to fly the flag of Sierra Leone and perform to the best of their abilities to those events ?

    Cameron , Ghana , Senegal Kenya ,Nigeria, South Africa , Ethopia, just to name few don’t suffer from any such self-inflictedhandicap .Their sporting men and women that do us proud in every Olympic and international footballing event like this year’s Fifa world cup in Qatar, are chosen on merits and not denied the opportunity to represent their countries because they hail from a minority group that makes up the demographic of that country .If we want to see Sierra Leone play in the next world cup hosted by Canada , Mexcico and the United States of America in 2026 , we will need to up our game .

    We did well in the last tournament of the African cup of nations which Bio milked for all the good that the Leoeans stars brought us back , the happiness and togetherness we all felt at the time. And during those celebration we managed to cast away all our political and tribal and regional differences and for once our national team achieved what for many in our county is seen as a failure of our corrupt and unrepentant politicians led by Boi , seen as unable or their unwilling to substitute their egos and ethnic bias and helped us heal our divided country .Is no coincidence countries with strong sporting national team’s feel more togetherness than countries that see the ethnicity of the sportman and woman first before instead of what they are capable of doing .If Croatia a country that came to existence after the break up of Yogosalvia in the 90s with a population of four million people , which equals to one suburbs of a Brazilian city , with a population of three hundred million people , and let’s be honest football mad as well , the country of Pele ,Ronaldo , and Ronaldino , can be knockd out of the world cup , we can all draw inspiration from that and picked the right people for the right job.Left to Bio alone we might end up seeing his friends and colleagues representing us in these international sporting events .The Hon.Abu Abu or Liaha Lawrence will be both the captains and goalkeeper respectively for our national football team.Yes maybe one day we will see a white Sierra Leonean representing us in a football game .But I don’t hold out much hope on that front because even the other Sierra Leoneans that are qualified to represent their countries but due to the accident of birth have been denied that opportunity.Is not what you know is who you know .That’s our handicap that is holding us back in all spheres of working life in Sierra Leone .

  3. “Why has England’s manager -Southgate reverted to the old practice of fielding a maximum of four black players?Whist I understand the sentiments expressed by the author of this article , one thing I would say the holy grail of English football is working in progress .Also in the contest of black representation in the England national team ,or even black players in the English Premier League in general, we can all agree there has been a remarkable steady progress on that front. From the days of John Barns playing for Liverpool, FC , and Bananas being thrown at him at the football pitch , to more recent events of English Premiership football players taking the knee in response to police brutality against African Americans , or against racism anywhere , spearheaded by the BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT , I think we are marching steadily towards enlightenment , and total emancipation of the racist mind ,where we stop seeing the colour of the skin of sports men, and women but judge them on what they can do with their God given talents .You cannot separate politics and sport otherwise the Russian fedration would have being represented in the 2022 world cup in Qatar. And Aparthired South Africa back in the days banned from taking part in international sporting events especially cricket .The silence of the Iranian team over the singing of their national anthem, and their subsequent defeat by the “Great Satan” (USA)for which majority of Iranians came out in support because of the Iranian regime crackdown on protesters, speaks volumes about how we interpret sporting events .From the four African Americans that gave the black power salute in the rustrum the 1968 Mexico, city Olympic games , to the suspension of former world heavy weights boxer
    Mohammed Alie back in the 60s /70s for his refusal to be drafted to go and fight in the Vietnam war , all speaks to one thing , gesture politics is part and parcel of sporting events .Yes France an European country is leading the way in fielding more black players ,despite coming under far right groups that claimed the French football national team is not a representative of the country’s demographic make up , majority of which are white . I hope Cameroon continue to perform in this tournament .Because for me they are the only remaining African team that has black players that many Black African children both home and abroad can identify with . Spare a thought for the black populations that is part and parcel of the make up of Tunisia and Morocco .Two African countries .I didn’t see any black players in their teams . And when Morroco knocked out Spain, on penalties ,one Morrococan football fan was quoted of saying the win is for “Morrooco and the Arab world “Mark the word Arab world not for Africa that tells you everything you want to know about race relation in that country .And for crying out loud here are two African countries, members of the African Union but don’t consider themselves African enough to have one black players playing for them.Qatar , Saudi Arabia, not known for having large black population , when you look at their national football teams , and you don’t know the geography of their location , you will be forgiven to think they are sharing borders with Nigeria or are slap bang located in the middle of the Congo forest not across the pond in the middle east .One can also accused our Sierra Leone Olympic team of being mostly made up of Bio’s choosing. Majority of our Olympic team members and officials were from the South . We didn’t see a lot of Banguras , Jones , Maculays,Kamaras , Or Jallohs in that team .Europeans representation of minorities on International sporting events are better than our own African countries .The statistics are there .Hopefully England will go on to win the world cup. Finally Football is coming home .!

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