Critics Call Foul on Diversity, Former World Cup Champ Fires Back

Emil Guillermo, NBC News, July 7, 2015

The U.S. Women’s National Team, World Cup champions, are once again the darlings of sport and media. But as quickly as the world celebrated their ascent, critics have launched the call for greater diversity on a team comprised mostly of white players, with few appearances by any players of color.

“Christen Press’ 15-minute stint as a mop-up reserve forward was the only appearance in the entire match by any African-American, Hispanic-American or Asian-American player,” wrote a columnist for the New York Daily News. “The U.S. featured no women of color for the first 75 minutes; no person of color on the coaching staff, throughout the game.” “Not Quite America’s Team,” another headline proclaimed.

But Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, a Filipino American from California, and a member of the 1999 World Cup Champion Women’s team, cautions critics who hold up diversity ahead of excellence.

“I think diversity is great, but you don’t want to force that just to say you have a diverse team,” said Roberts Sahaydak, in an interview with NBC News. “It doesn’t mean if you’re diverse you will be better. In 1999, we had a diverse team that was the accumulation of the best players in the county at that time. This time it wasn’t as diverse, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t capable players out there . . . We have to do more to reach out to communities besides white suburbia and find ways to make (soccer) more affordable to families that can’t afford youth soccer, since it’s so expensive.”

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