The Washington Post was forced to issue a correction to an op-ed piece that lamented the absence of black players on Argentina’s national soccer team — even though the black population of the South American country is less than 1%.
The correction was attached to a Dec. 8 “Perspective” piece by author Erika Denise Edwards, who wrote an op-ed as part of the newspaper’s “Made by History” series.
“Why doesn’t Argentina have more black players in the World Cup?” read the headline of the op-ed.
Edwards, an associate professor of Latin American history at the University of Texas at El Paso, wrote that the lack of black players on Argentina’s World Cup roster stood in “stark contrast” to other South American soccer powers such as Brazil.
She wrote that the “idea of Argentina as a white nation” was “inaccurate” and that attempts to portray it as such were part of a “longer history of black erasure at the heart of the country’s self-definition.”
Edwards cited historical data that she said showed that in the 18th century, a third of Argentina’s population was black.
After Argentina gained its independence, its leaders sought to bring it closer to
Europe by initiating a process of “whitening,” according to Edwards.
“They believed that to join the ranks of Germany, France and England, Argentina had to displace its black population — both physically and culturally,” she wrote.
The original version of the op-ed cited census figures from 2010 that showed that “roughly one percent” of Argentina’s population of 46 million was black.
But the Washington Post later issued a correction noting that the actual number was “far less than” 1%.
“Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this piece noted that roughly one percent of the Argentinian population was black according to a 2010 government released census,” the correction read.
“While the number of black people cited was accurate, the percentage was actually far less than one percent and the piece has been amended to state that.”
The Post has sought comment from Edwards.
Twitter observers noted that Argentina was a popular destination for European immigrants beginning in the second half of the 19th century.
Scholars note that Argentina absorbed some 6 million immigrants primarily from Italy and Spain — setting in motion demographic changes that explain the shrinking black population in the country.
Argentina’s soccer team emerged victorious against the Netherlands in the World Cup quarterfinal on Friday in a dramatic contest that ended with penalty kicks.
The Lionel Messi-led club faces Croatia in the semifinals on Tuesday.