Ethnic/racial heritage controversies and national loyalty

Discussion in 'Soccer' started by Giles Daldanus, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Giles Daldanus

    Giles Daldanus Guru

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    I decided to start a new thread in order to discuss two separate (but somewhat related) subsets of issues.

    1) There are a lot of rumours (while quite a few are unsubstantiated, some possibly have a degree of merit to them) surrounding the ethnic roots of certain footballers. One example of that is the widespread tendency (at least on the Internet) to lump football players (especially those from Spain and the Balkans) into the Romani or part Romani category.

    Here is one sample video:

    [video=youtube;mZYGX2BTNe4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZYGX2BTNe4[/video]

    It may be a good idea for posters (I am personally not that knowledgeable when it comes to topics connected to ethnogenesis and physical anthropology) to use this topic to give their two cents with regard to racially or ethnically ambiguous soccer players. Some examples are: Marvin Martin (France), Jesus Navas (Spain - alleged to be of Gypsy heritage, but I personally believe that he could pass for a Spaniard), Milan Baros (Czech Republic), Stephen Kelly (arguably somewhat exotic looks for an Irishman), Kevin Strootman and Johnny Heitinga (Netherlands, rumoured to be part Indonesian).

    It needs to be noted that some full-blooded Gypsies may actually be white from a phenotypical standpoint, though of course most of them show Dravidian features. Also, the designation “Gypsy” may refer to one’s love of the nomadic lifestyle rather than represent a racial or ethnic category. Irish Travellers are to the best of my knowledge physically indistinguishable from English and Irish people.

    Furthermore, one shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there is a lot of phenotypical variation within the same ethnicities (even relatively isolated groups like Icelanders are not homogeneous in their physical appearance).

    2) National loyalty – what are your personal views? Should an ethnic Pole who is born in France and is Frankophone and/or culturally French represent Poland or France in international football? I am thinking of cases like Josip Simunic and Giuseppe Rossi whose decisions to don the jerseys of their parents’ countries sparked intense discussions in their states of birth. Of course it’s up to the footballer to cast his lot with a specific national team, but if you had it your way, would you prefer that soccer stars chose their place of birth or that they showed loyalty to the land where their ethnicity originates from?

     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  2. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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    other examples of controversial players regarding ethnicity:

    clement grenier:

    [​IMG]

    he has a french name but looks strange

    tony vairelles:


    [​IMG]

    he has a french name and is said to be a gipsy, but it might be a case where it refers to a lifestyle and not really to an athnicity

    that's all i can think of now but i will post more when i think about others
     
  3. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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    as for the second question, i think that in europe, one should be playing for the country his paternal family comes from
    you can be in my opinion of another origin throught your mother and it doesn't matter especially is it's from a similar country
    for example perquis should play for france and shut up about his polish origin, while obraniak should be playing for poland, according to me
     
  4. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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    there was this portuguese player also who didn't have any known non white origin and looked strange, simao

    about the video of gipsy players, i have read that van der vart wasn't a gipsy, his mother was of spanish origin and his father lived in a trailer, that's it
     
  5. Giles Daldanus

    Giles Daldanus Guru

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    Nice to see you here, Frederic, and thank you for being one of the prominent posters who keeps the soccer subsection of the forum alive and kicking (I have unfortunately been rather busy over the last six months, but I hope to inject new life into my posting habits once the 2014 World Cup begins)!

    I always tend to be curious about such cases (I am by no means a racial purist and some amount of distant foreign admixture should not disqualify someone from representing a country, so I hope that none of these individuals would feel slighted if they came across such threads).

    Yes, Simao Sabrosa has been classified multiple times on various physical anthropology forums (it seems as if there isno clear consensus one way or the other). …Also, exotic looks (up to a certain point) do not necessarily reveal the full picture, as sometimes unusual genetic recombinations could produce less typical phenotypes without indicating any non-European mixture (a kid may on occasions not show much of a resemblance toany of his/her parents).

    Grenier possibly has Italian or Portuguese ancestors, but to the best of my understanding even fully French people could show strong Mediterranean features.

    Regarding your other French example – it’sa very poignant one, I remember that I used to know a Dutch guy with blondish hair and very fair skin pigmentation (while I was temporarily a student in theNetherlands) who proudly self-identified as a Gypsy. At the time I never got the chance to ask him what meaning he attached to the notion. As for Van der Vaart – apparently he spent some of his childhood living in a caravan (like Freddy Eastwood who is Romanichal), but from an ethnic standpoint he is indeed half Spanish and half Dutch.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddy_Eastwood

    Well put, I agree with your points pertaining to the second question. Clear-cut choices are not easy to make when it comes to such identity dilemmas, but it is clear that the ethnicity factor should never be taken out of the equation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  6. Rebajlo

    Rebajlo Mentor

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    We've discussed the issue of players representing nations other than that of their birth several times before. For the life of me, I don't understand why intelligent, "racially aware" people feel the need to formulate various criteria under which "switching allegiances" suddenly becomes acceptable.

    I'm sure that by now everyone is more than aware of my constantly reiterated stance on the subject so I'll keep things brief. As I've said previously, I can understand (but cannot condone) if a player wishes to represent a nation (or, if You like, ethnicity) in which both of his parents were born (or, in the case of ethnicity, to which both of his parents belong) and whose language he speaks.

    In my opinion, one cannot legitimately represent a nation / people if one is unable to speak that people's language fluently. By "fluently", I don't mean the usual painfully grating, remedial pre-school dropout level "hello, me big proud represent [insert nation of choice]" bollocks.

    With all due respect, anyone who avers that a player (or anybody else) from Country A can magically switch national identities simply because one of his grandparents happened to hail from Country B and as a consequence of which he has been granted a piece of paper stating he is now also a citizen of Country B is in fact inadvertently aiding the leftist agenda of gradual identity dilution.

    frederic -

    Well, if Your model was applied to Raymond Kopa (both of whose parents were Polish migrants and whose real name is Kopaszewski) he "obviously" should have played for Poland. See how ridiculous things can become...

    Both Perquis and Obraniak are Frenchmen and should therefore play for France and - failing that - for no other nation. In the following clips one can see just how "Polish" these mercenary bull**** artists are:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fgvhkFaabI

    Start watching the second clip from 0:45. Check out Perquis' Polish language comprehension skills at 1:05 and Obraniak's kindergarten attempts to speak the language of "his nation" at 1:49. The remaining minute after Obraniak's rapid retreat from the reporters in the wake of his embarrassing massacre of the Polish language has nothing to do with our discussion so it's not worth watching. :icon_wink:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbRJ-8aiGis

    In the great scheme of things, it is clearly immaterial if the so-called "Polish heritage" lies on the paternal or maternal side of the family tree. Obraniak may bear a Polish surname - but that's about it.
     
  7. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    France has small ethnic Spanish, Italian and German communities in the border areas with the countries. He could be part Italian or Spanish. In the south of France the people look much darker than in Brittany or Alsace anyway. Even people with French surnames look virtually indistinguishable from Italians in the border area with Italy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  8. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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    did you get that impression from visiting france?
    if so in france there is a huge immigrant population from southern europe
    but native french people have no "latin" blood, except maybe in southwest france and parts of the mediterranéan coast
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  9. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    Invasions from ancient times have adjusted the classical French look. In the south Arab and Roman invaders created a look like Jean Reno (he is ethnic Spanish though) and Gerard Depardieu has the more common French look. This is what I was talking about......http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France
     
  10. Giles Daldanus

    Giles Daldanus Guru

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    Very well put, Rebajlo, as always you present a rather compelling argument! In an ideal world, a player would only have one clear choice (it’s not possible for everyone to become an international footballer and there is nothing wrong with simply remaining a fan of your country’s national side rather than fighting for it on the soccer pitch).

    I think that the crux of the issue is whether a country envisions itself as ethnic-based or places a premium on civic identity (i.e. Germany vs. Canada). In the former case, a German who is born in Kazakhstan would still be seen as fully German by the vast majority of German nationals, even if his knowledge of the language is somewhat lacking (assuming he has not become “culturally Kazakh”). Canadians would not care that much about notions of ethnic belonging.

    This clip is highly revealing - the footballer in question has difficulties expressing himself in the Polish language and the whole situation is indeed quite embarrassing for both the player himself and the Polish journalists...the bigger issue is that Poland was probably his second choice national team (if France had attempted to secure his services, he would have likely agreed to represent them). However, if from a very early age the footballer had made it clear that Poland would be the one and only option for him, then I am sure that Polish fans would have found it easier to embrace him.

    I remember that there was some talk of French-born Timothée Kolodziejczak playing for Poland at the Euro 2012 tournament, but the manager eventually decided not to call him up.

    Also, I have to acknowledge that the inclusion of guys like Perquis may potentially compromise the fairness principle...I am sure that there are plenty of Polish kids who are born in Poland and dream of donning the colours of their country – it’s not out of the question that at least two talented Polish-born footballer missed out on the special occasion (Euro 2012) because of these “French Poles”.

    In addition, one has to take into account that certain footballers grow up in “parallel communities” (in Western countries). For example, a number of Turks in Germany are not well-integrated and have almost exclusive interactions with co-ethnics rather than with Germans in their everyday activities, so if a guy who is raised in such an environment decides to represent Turkey, I have no problem with that, as the player is more likely to identify as a Turk than a German, so it wouldn’t make much sense to represent the German national side. Mesut Özil (who had upper class upbringing) received a lot of stick from Turks for agreeing to make himself available for Germany.

    It should always be decided in a case-by-case basis, but I concur with you that it should not become a common practice, as it could further dilute the identities of national teams.

    I agree that there is sometimes a bit of an overlap when it comes to the physical appearance of people in neighbouring regions. Corsicans (a subset of the French ethnicity) have Latin roots, if I am not mistaken.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  11. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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    that's the problem with france
    it's multiple peoples put together
    but for the most part it's germanic peoples mixed with celts so it's not very different from region to region
    but when it comes to more different regions like savoie, brittany (100% celt, few germanic influence) or alsace (german) it's more difficult to say that they are ethnically french
    it's even more difficult with corsicans, who are nothing else than italians and have nothing to do with france in my opinion
    and even worse with the french oversea territories, where there are black and mixed french people who according to your definition would also be ethnically french (thuram for example)
     
  12. Rebajlo

    Rebajlo Mentor

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    Giles -

    As You've doubtlessly noticed, I place great emphasis on loyalty to the nation of one's birth and childhood development so my views upon the subject of "eligibility" for multiple nations subsequently mirror this.

    Despite being a first-generation Australian myself I don't approve of mass immigration (something which, given my origins, is usually interpreted as either ironic or hypocritical). If I travel to Poland, I expect to see Poles. If I travel to Germany, I expect to see Germans - and so on. When I'm in Wales, for example, I like spending time in the north-west, where I can hear plenty of Welsh being spoken.

    My seeming obsession with loyalty stems from having Polish background. As You probably know, Poland historically accepted disproportionately large numbers of migrants. For instance, Jews were first permitted to settle in substantial numbers during the eleventh century, while the mass immigration of Germans commenced in the thirteenth century. Such startlingly naive, short-sighted policies quickly transformed Poland from a Slavic state (or, during the period of fragmentation between 1138 and 1320, a series of duchies and principalites) into a "multicultural" mess in which the Jews and Germans failed to assimilate - with the salient point being that they were not even encouraged, let alone forced to assimilate - and consequently retained their seperate languages and cultures. Despite residing in Poland for centuries, both of these groups actively pursued the interests of their own ethnicities and did not identify with the Polish people or the Polish state. Such an "arrangement" will seem eerily familiar to modern Americans, Canadians, Australians, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, et cetera. This long-term disloyalty partly contributed to the dismemberment of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century in addition to providing instability after 1918. Now, before anyone coughs up their liver along with a litre of bile let me just say that I'm not attempting to stir anything up - all of the above just happens to be the stark, unvarnished truth.

    Polish history therefore provides a salutary case study of the proven destructiveness of "multiculturalism" and I've been highly aware of its lessons from my earliest years. That's why I always disapproved of Balkan migrants' lack of assimilation with Anglo-Celtic Australia and why I am so scathing of Josip Simunic. Australia gave his family a chance for the proverbial "better life" and he repaid that favour by opting to play for Croatia (and all that after taking advantage of an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship). You used the example of Turks in Germany. If in their everyday activities they have almost exclusive interactions with co-ethnics rather than Germans then what are they doing in Germany? Naturally, the question is purely rhetorical...

    If someone - regardless of skin colour - is born in a nation, growsup in that nation, yet feels compelled to represent the nation from which their family originated then he (or she) and their entire family should be booted back to their country of provenance. Yes, I know this sounds awfully harsh but if migrants raise their children to feel a stronger bond with the "old country" than the country in which they were born and grew up they should all piss off back to the place they love so much. I'd say that sounds logical enough, wouldn't You think...
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014
  13. Europe

    Europe Mentor

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    I think players will play for any country that will have them. It is Fifa's fault for allowing it. If they can't play for France, they'll play for Algeria. I don't think it has anything to do with a stronger bond in most cases. They just want to play in the World CUP. They treat countries like clubs because Fifa allows it. Most smaller countries want it that way.

    I don't like the Argentinians playing for Italy, but at the same time a 100% Italian Argentine is more Italian than Balotelli.

    At this point I think national teams are getting to be a joke. The US is a mess. There are so many players who can represent many nations the way it is setup now by FIFA. I don't want Mexicans representing me or black people.


    "why I am so scathing of Josip Simunic. Australia gave his family a chance for the proverbial "better life" and he repaid that favour by opting to play for Croatia (and all that after taking advantage of an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship)"

    Subotic of Serbia is a good example. See his wiki entry below.

    Born in Banja Luka, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to Bosnian Serb[SUP][1][/SUP] parents, father Željko from the village of Kulaši and mother Svjetlana fromBrestovo, Subotić spent his early childhood in the town of Prnjavor. In 1990, when Subotić was two years old, his father went to Germany in search of work. In 1994, with the Bosnian War already raging, the rest of the family including five-year-old Subotić, his sister and their mother joined their father in Germany, settling in the town of Schömberg. Subotić took up football at the age of seven with the local outfit TSV Schwarzenberg.[SUP][2][/SUP]
    In the late 1990s, the Subotić family's residence authorization in Germany expired and in order to avoid being deported back to Bosnia,[SUP][3][/SUP] they opted to move to the United States in 1999. They settled in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Subotić's father had a cousin.[SUP][2][/SUP] Subotić played football with Sparta Gold and Impact Black youth clubs.
    Within two years, the family was on the move again, this time to Bradenton, Florida, so that Subotić's sister Natalija could pursue a tennis career at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.[SUP][2][/SUP] The city also happens to be the base for the United States under-17 national team. Subotić trained on his own in G.T. Bray Park, where he got spotted by Keith Fulk, one of the American team's assistant coaches who then informed the team's head coach, John Ellinger, about Subotić. After arranging a tryout, they offered Subotić a spot in the residency camp. At the time, he was not attached to any club sides, but eventually started playing with the University of South Florida team.
    While playing with the under-17 team in the Netherlands, Subotić was approached by player agent Steve Kelly, who inquired about his career plans and offered a possibility of playing in Europe. After impressing at the tryout for 1. FSV Mainz 05, young Subotić was on his way there, initially playing for the club's youth and fourth-division teams (1. FSV Mainz 05 II).[SUP][2][/SUP] Subotić holds a German passport; an American passport; a Bosnia and Herzegovina passport; and a Serbian passport.[SUP][4]

    First, how the hell does he just move from Germany to the US. At least Germany was going to kick them out, but not the US. His family did everything they could to get out of Serbia, but yet he chooses to play for them.

    He gets all these scholarships in the US but turns his back. It's not like the US didn't want him. He probably would have started for the US.[/SUP]


     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  14. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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  15. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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  16. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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  17. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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    According to the linked article his family are upset:

    https://www.supersport.com/football/africa/news/150317/Family_unhappy_with_Fekirs_France_decision
     
  18. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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  19. Freethinker

    Freethinker Hall of Famer

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  20. Porthos

    Porthos Mentor

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    I have to partially disagree with some posts in this thread. First of all, being an immigrant in a country does not automatically make you culturally/ethnically belong to that country. I am a blood-and-soil guy, so I understand that for example Simunic (born in Australia but of Croatian ancestry) or Rakitic (born in Switzerland but also Croatian ancestry) feel Croatian and want to can play for Croatia, same thing for the Italian "oriundi" who were born in Argentina but had Italian bloodlines/ancestry, felt Italian and chose to play for Italy. Simunic could play for Australia but chose Croatia instead (and is an ardent nationalist who speaks perfect Croatian), Rakitic also speaks Croatian and chose to play for Croatia. Great - no problem for me. Nota bene that there is a huge number of Australian Croatians who chose to play for Australia and not Croatia. In the current team I can see Ivan Franjic, Oliver Bozanic, Tomi Juric and Mile Jedinak who is also the captain, in the past there were too many to mention (rarely there is less than 3 or 4 players of Croatian ancestry in the Australian team). One name for all is Mark Viduka, by many considered one of the best Australian players of all time. And that is also OK for me. For Switzerland play Mario Gavranovic and Josip Drmic - also of Croatian ancestry - and that too is perfectly OK. Same for Subotic, the guy moved around a lot but in his hart he always felt Serbian and it is right that he chose Serbia as his team. Perfectly OK for me. In other words, as you grow up, you choose your identity and decide for which country you want to play.

    The Obraniak case is different in that he never really felt Polish, couldn't make a cut in the French team and so he suddenly and suspiciously discovered his "Polishness" because he *could* after all play for Poland (but not for France). This for me is opportunism of the worst kind and is unacceptable. I.e. - I would really love to play for France, but since they don't call me up, I'll reinvent myself as Polish and play for Poland - this way I can have "national team" on my resume. No!

    Then there is the even worse tendency of hastily producing passports for foreign players who have nothing to do with your country, only because you want them to play for your team. So the Black Brazilian Sammir gets a Croatian passport and can play for Croatia (thanks God, just for 1 game), the Brazilian Diego Costa (with zero Spanish ancestry) gets a Spanish passport and plays for Spain (or Ferenc Puskas for that matter), the Brazilian Eder Martins, with zero Italian blood, now suddenly gets an Italian passport and is called up for Italy. No thanks! Play for Brazil if you can. These kind of things just make a mockery of the term "national team".
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  21. Porthos

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    ... and here's Inter coach Roberto Mancini coming out about this new "easy naturalization" mania that is gripping the continent (and especially Italy):

    "Speaking at a Serie A meeting Monday, Mancini says, "The Italian national team should be Italian. ... An Italian player deserves to play for the national team while someone who wasn't born in Italy, even if they have relatives, I don't think deserves to."Mancini was responding to this weekend's call ups of Sampdoria's Brazilian-born striker Eder and Palermo's Argentine-born midfielder Franco Vazquez to Italy's squad."

    http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/...ni_keep_foreign_born_players_off_italys_squad
     
  22. frederic38

    frederic38 Hall of Famer

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    fekir was booed during his first touch with the french national team :laugh:
     
  23. Rebajlo

    Rebajlo Mentor

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    Porthos -

    Roma's Argentine-Italian oriundo Enrique (or Enrico...) Guaita was certainly a "blood and soil" man - he soiled his pants after learning that he might have to spill some blood. Accompanied by his wife and two of the club's other Argentine-Italian players, he lit out of Italy in 1936 the day after receiving his draft notice for the Second Italo-Abbysinian War... :bolt::icon_wink:
     
  24. Porthos

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    Rebajlo, even if you are an Australian nationalist, you still have a strong connections with Poland. A question for you - who would you support in a hypotetical World Cup final between Poland and Australia?
     
  25. Matra2

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    The Bulgaria v Italy match was good entertainment. It has to be said that Eder's goal was excellent. Unfortunately my commentator gloated afterwards saying something like "what say you Roberto Mancini".:icon_rolleyes:
     

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