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23 Aug, 2021 18:37

All Whites not all right? Review into New Zealand’s football nickname hints at potential change due to ‘cultural inclusivity’

All Whites not all right? Review into New Zealand’s football nickname hints at potential change due to ‘cultural inclusivity’

New Zealand's football team, who play in an all-white strip, could lose their 'All Whites' nickname amid a cultural sensitivity review into the country's sporting principles - and some fans are not happy about it.

The 'All Whites' nickname has been part of New Zealand footballing culture since they first wore the strip during the country's bid to qualify for the 1982 World Cup.

The idea was launched as a counter-balance of sorts to New Zealand's famous 'All Blacks' rugby team, who, you guessed it, compete in an all-black kit.

But while the All Blacks are almost certainly beyond reproach, the All Whites may be under threat amid a review into elements of the game by New Zealand authorities.

"As with many other national bodies, New Zealand Football is on a journey around cultural inclusivity and respecting the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi," New Zealand Football said in a statement, referencing a treaty signed by the British and Maori people in 1840.

"As part of our delivery and sustainability project announced last year, 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.

"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."

The debate mirrors somewhat the reckoning currently underway in several sports in the United States which has seen several sporting franchises which were named in reference to Native Americans, with both Washington's NFL team and Cleveland's baseball team moving on from their 'Redskins' and 'Indians' monikers respectively. 

A similar situation also took place in New Zealand as recently as 2019 when rugby team Canterbury Crusaders changed their logo from a knight brandishing a sword to Maori symbolism after deciding that an image referencing Christian vs. Muslim battles was inappropriate.

Somewhat predictably, the potential plan has gone down like a lead balloon with some football fans online.

"The New Zealand rugby team are called the All Blacks because they play entirely in black. The New Zealand football team are called the All Whites because they play entirely in white. If you see anything to do with race in that then it is you who is the racist, nobody else," said one fan.

"This is utterly ridiculous," said another. "'All Whites' is a fan-assigned nickname based entirely on the colour of the playing strip. It's like the Boston Red Sox. They have red socks. The All Whites have white shirts. That's it. What's going on?"

"Even *considering* dropping the All Whites moniker is preposterous," said a third. "There is absolutely no racial foundation to the name. Never has, never will. Thousands of football teams are defined by club colours. Real Madrid are known as ‘Los Blancos’ (the whites) - this is no different."

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