New Zealand Name change likely for NZ soccer’s All Whites
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Name change likely for NZ soccer’s All Whites

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Callum McCowatt on the field for NZ's All Whites against Ireland in 2019. Photo: Getty
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New Zealand Football is reported to be considering dropping the All Whites nickname of the national men’s soccer team due to the racial connotation.

While NZF has not confirmed it might discard the name, it has said it will implement several measures designed to improve its cultural inclusivity.

The national body is reported to have sought feedback from stakeholders on a potential change.

The All Whites name has a relatively short-lived history. It was first applied to the national team during its qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup in Spain when it appeared for the first time in an all-white uniform.

Previously the New Zealand team had played mostly in black shorts, white shirts and white socks. It subsequently adopted the white strip and with it the nickname that riffed on All Blacks, the much more famous name of New Zealand’s rugby team.

“New Zealand Football is on a journey around cultural inclusivity and respecting the principles of (the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding treaty between Indigenous Maori and the British crown), chief executive Andrew Pragnell said in a statement Monday.

As part of a project announced last year, NZ Football is working with those involved in the game as well as people from outside football to review all areas of the organisation.

“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),” Mr Pragnell said.

In 2020, Christchurch-based Super Rugby team the Crusaders were forced to discard a logo that showed a knight wielding a sword, because of the reference to religious crusaders of the middle ages. They opted to retain the Crusaders name because of fan opposition to a change.

Several professional sports teams in the US have also changed their names recently, or are going through similar processes. They include the Washington Football Team and the Cleveland American League baseball franchise, which both abandoned nicknames considered offensive to Native Americans.

-AAP