NZ to stop calling soccer team the All Whites over fears it's RACIST
24th August 2021

New Zealand could stop calling its men’s soccer team the ‘All Whites’ because the name is seen as RACIST – but some call the push ‘utterly ridiculous’

  • Football New Zealand to consider changing name of men’s national soccer team
  • The sport’s governing body fears the name All Whites may be seen as racist
  • All Whites refers to their all-white kit and is an ode to the All Blacks rugby side 
  • Fans and players slammed the move saying it’s ‘political correctness gone mad’ 

New Zealand Football is considering whether to dump the nickname of the men’s national soccer team fearing the moniker All Whites could be seen as racist.

The sport’s governing body is set to undergo a review that will examine all aspects of ‘cultural inclusivity’ moving forward beyond 2021, but fans and former players say it’s ‘political correctness gone mad’ and ‘utterly ridiculous’.

The name refers to the team’s all-white kit and is a nod to the more prominent All Blacks rugby side, who are also named after the colour they wear on the pitch. 

A large number of New Zealand national teams also share similar titles including the Tall Blacks in men’s basketball, the White Ferns in women’s cricket and the Black Sticks for both genders in field hockey.

New Zealand’s men’s badminton side, to gain publicity in the early 2000s, even adopted the very controversial appellation The Black Cox in reference to the sport’s shuttlecock.

New Zealand Football is considering whether to dump the nickname of the men’s national soccer team fearing the moniker All Whites could be seen as racist. Pictured: Rory Fallon of the All Whites celebrates scoring during the FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifier match between New Zealand and Bahrain at Westpac Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Wellington, New Zealand

The name refers to the team’s all-white kit and is a nod to the more prominent All Blacks rugby side who are also named after the colour they wear on the pitch. Pictured: All Black captain Kieran Read performs the haka during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales at Eden Park on June 11, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand

Legendary New Zealand striker Vaughan Coveny, who remains the All White’s top goal scorer, said he is baffled by the move because there are no racial overtones to the name which has been in place since New Zealand’s first World Cup appearance in 1982.

‘I am a bit of a traditionalist, I played there for many years and I am surprised they want to do that. It sort of baffles me why they want to go down the track,’ Coveny told The Age.

‘Will they also then change the All Blacks? What’s the need to change it? It’s been like that for many years. It’s about the history, the sport and how far it goes back.

‘The All Whites have always been the New Zealand soccer team, ever since I was a kid. From the day you’re born you’re brought up with it, you go through your years playing soccer and looking up to that.’

Sports broadcaster Jason Pine also took aim at Football New Zealand calling their diversity drive ‘utterly ridiculous’.

‘All Whites is a fan-assigned nickname based entirely on the colour of the playing strip,’ he tweeted.

‘It’s like the Boston Red Sox. They have red socks. The All Whites have white shirts. That’s it.’

Sports broadcaster Jason Pine also took aim at Football New Zealand calling their diversity drive ‘utterly ridiculous’. Pictured: All Whites celebrates with team mates after scoring their side’s first goal against the Republic of Korea during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Kashima, Japan

New Zealand’s men’s badminton side, to gain publicity in the early 2000s, adopted the very controversial appellation The Black Cox in reference to the sport’s shuttlecock. Pictured: New Zealand Badminton stars Oliver Leydon-Davis (left) and Susannah Leydon-Davis (right)

But retired New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen said he can understand why the team name may have the potential to carry negative racial connotations.

‘Even it displeases a tiny minority then that for me is enough to change it,’ Nelsen told Radio New Zealand.

Although New Zealand Football have not directly commented on a potential name change, the sporting body confirmed in a statement they were speaking with the game’s stakeholders to improve ‘cultural inclusivity’.

‘We are in the process of working with stakeholders across the game, as well as people from outside football, looking at all areas of the organisation to make sure they are fit for purpose in 2021 and beyond,’ the statement said.

‘It is too early in the process to speak about any outcomes but this is an important piece of work as we strive to be the most inclusive sport in Aotearoa (New Zealand).’

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