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Fox analysts draw criticism for racial tropes used during Nigeria-Germany match

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Germany asserted itself as one of the Women’s World Cup favorites on Saturday with a 3-0 dispatching of Nigeria, but one of the biggest takeaways for many fans came from the broadcast booth.

Fox broadcasters Lisa Byington and Cat Whitehill received some harsh criticism after the pair’s analysis of Nigeria, one of two African nations to make to the round of 16, made a little too much about about the country’s athleticism and its European coach.

Nigeria's Halimatu Ayinde, left, vies for the ball with Germany's Sara Daebritz during the Women's World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Germany and Nigeria at Stade del Alpes in Grenoble, France, Saturday, June 22, 2019. Daebritz scored once in Germany's 3-0 victory. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Nigeria, like every other team in the Women's World Cup's Group of 16, got here by being more than just athletic. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Two comments captured by Deadspin showed the worst of it, the first coming within the first 10 minutes of play when Byington uncritically passed along a quote from Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg that lumped Nigeria in with all African teams:

Byington: “Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has said it’s always tough to play the African sides. Good mentality with their pace and physicality. Something obviously you can always expect.”

Whitehill, a former USWNT player, went a step further shortly before halftime when she credited Nigeria’s first knockout stage appearance since 1999 to the federation bringing in a coach to ... coach the players.

Whitehill: “Somehow Nigeria keeps making it into the World Cup and they’re finally, with [Thomas] Dennerby, getting a proper coach to teach them proper tactical and technical aspects to their game. I think it’s exciting for Nigeria. They’re finally, you know, looking like a side that can compete. “

The Swedish Dennerby, as you might expect, is white. Whitehill also reportedly said earlier in the match that Dennerby’s European heritage would help him prepare against Germany.

One can only wonder how Cameroon, the other African nation to reach the knockout stage, made it with a Cameroonian coach in Alain Djeumfa.

Soon enough, viewers were jumping on Byington and Whitehill’s analysis on Twitter.

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Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports also recorded a video criticizing the use of stereotypes in analysis of African teams, though he didn’t call out any announcer or writer by name.

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