I don't think I made a huge deal of it in my espn.com article, but I did mention that Ruud Gullit is of African ethnic heritage, and that he is the first such head coach in MLS history.
Some people apparently didn't think that should even be a point. I got a couple of emails that basically told me that information should have been left out.
With regards to his African ethnicity, as you no doubt are aware, he is multi-racial. His real name is Ruud Dil. At the time of his birth in Amsterdam, his father, George, was married. Ironically, his current wife is the niece of Johan Cruyff.
I recall an interesting quote from his days at AC Milan:
"We all decided to speak Italian to each other to ease our transition." (Van Basten and Rijkaard).
While diversity in MLS is important, coaching quality, regardless of skin color or ethnic background, is more integral if the league is to develop and prosper.
Just wanted to share that he is actually from Suriname (a country in South America and a former Dutch colony) and not of African descent.
yes, he has cool hair (and had awesome dreadlocks back in the 80s), but I think if you ask him, he would probably shy away from claiming himself as the "first African anything" in MLS.
As a fan, I am happy to see many players of African descent play and shine in MLS (e.g. Jozy Altidore (Haiti), Joseph Ingwena (Nigeria), Sharlie Joseph (Grenada). But sometimes it's nice not to think about the whole race thing....I mean america, we are just to hammered by it all over the place. It seems like a non-issue in MLS. we have south american (moreno, conde), asian (alex yee), jewish (jonathan bornstein) and many other ethniticities/cultural groups. it's great because the world of soccer has achieved this level of diversity because the passion for soccer runs in so many communities....but sometimes it's just nice not to make an issue of it.
The thing is, I do think it matters (Also, Suriname, like the American South at one point, had heavy African immigration for labor purposes). Gullit has never shied away from his African roots or his support of black players. There's nothing wrong with noting the league has reached a milestone that could one day become instrumental in attracting more minorities to soccer in the U.S. I'm not saying Gullit is going to change the fact that most African-Americans aren't very interested in soccer all by himself, but yes, I do think his hiring makes at least a slight difference.
What do our readers think?