Why Are World Cup Fans Cheering for 'All Whites'?

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In Sunday World Cup action, the unheralded New Zealand team—ranked 78th in the world—held heavily favored Italy to a 1-1 tie, a result that the Azzuri were lucky to escape with. While watching the match, I did a double-take when television shots of the crowd picked up signs reading "All Whites." It took a moment or two to compute that the Kiwi soccer team wears all white uniforms—to distinguish themselves I suppose from their far more renowned compatriots, the black-clad rugby squad universally known as the "All Blacks"—and that the signs were being waved by New Zealand supporters in reference to their team. But it certainly seemed like a geopolitically tone deaf way of proclaiming their allegiance in that setting. Or is that very insensitivity to history itself something of a sign of progress?

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Henry D. Fetter is the author of Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball and has written widely about the business and politics of sports. More

Henry D. Fetter is the author of Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball (WW Norton). He has written about the business and politics of sports, the American left, Jewish and Israeli history, and legal affairs for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Times Literary Supplement, the Journal of Sport History, Israel Affairs, The Public Interest, American Communist History, The National Pastime, and the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, and his work has appeared in several baseball history anthologies.

His article "Revising the Revisionists: Walter O' Malley, Robert Moses and the End of the Brooklyn Dodgers" was awarded the Kerr History Prize for the best article published in 2008 in the journal New York History; an earlier version of that article was presented at the Columbia University symposium "Robert Moses: New Perspectives on the Master Builder" (March 2007) and received a McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award. He is the recipient of research grants from the Society for American Baseball Research and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute.

Fetter is a graduate of Harvard Law School and also holds degrees in history from Harvard College and the University of California, Berkeley. A native New Yorker, he attended his first major league baseball game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field on Memorial Day 1955 and some years later followed the Dodgers to Los Angeles where he has practiced business and entertainment litigation for the past 30 years.

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