June 15, 2006

Ecuador 3, Costa Rica 0: Brushing aside critics who derided them for only being able to win at altitude, Ecuador decisively entered the second round with a convincing victory over Costa Rica in Hamburg (elevation 10 feet). The victory also clinched a second round berth for the host country, Germany, while the Ticos and Poland become the first countries to be eliminated. Should their final game with Germany end in a draw, Ecuador, a team with no stars, would win the group, and thus avoid a likely showdown with England in the Second Round.

One of more interesting facets of Ecuador over the years has been how predominantly black their national soccer team is. In a country where only 3% of the population has African ancestry, the fact that 9 of the 11 starters for this year's team are black is, at least from a sociological standpoint, curious. Other South American countries have a much higher percentage of blacks among the total population (for example, Brazil has a demographic base of 45% combined black and mixed race in the population), but nowhere near that number on their soccer teams. And this year's team is not unusual; in the past, Ecuador has always seemed to be
have more than a fair share of black players. Is the racism in Ecuador somehow more acute? Do blacks have even fewer options other than sports?

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