Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You shouldn't choose a country just for sport

The only people who should play for England are English people. If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I’m not going to play for Spain. - JW

Is Jack Wilshire wrong? Is he right? At least he's opened up a can of worms.

He's allowed an opinion, even if you don't agree with it. But it is worth a proper discussion, and he shouldn't be dismissed as a bigot, right-wing nationalist kid. He's a 21 year-old with England caps and lots of experience of visiting different societies and cultures. He may not have seen much more than Arsenal or the FA would allow him on these trips, but he is also exposed to a multitude of races, ethnicities and nationalities in the Arsenal dressing room. But does it even come down to that?

There was a debate a few years ago about nationalizing Manuel Almunia while England couldn't find a decent goalkeeper. It may be laughed off now (as he was pretty awful), but people seemed to think it was a real possibility. I wouldn't deny Almunia or Adnan Janujaz citizenship if they wanted it, and met all the requirements of the government, but should it entitle them to represent their new country if they genuinely considered themselves English? 

Yes, i think it should, but by the same token, would England fans want to watch a team that included Ronaldinho, van Basten, Scweinsteiger, Xavi and Zidane? Of course they would if it meant they were winning - but that's not always he point. England fans have accepted Mo Farah as an Olympic champion, as there was no indication (as far as I can tell) that he moved to the UK to solely play sport. He was looking for a better quality of life and an opportunity at something he couldn't get in his native country. 

If you really want to be English (or Russian/Italian/Australian/whatever), then fine - there would be no issue. 

I think people should be accepted in their new country, regardless of background and be allowed to live wherever they want. However, I don't believe players or people should be able to choose a country just to play sport, and nations (despite media stupidity) shouldn't actively recruit people with mixed backgrounds - let them decide what they consider 'home'.

Players find tedious links through grandparents, birthplace and their dog's third cousin's uncle (Tony Cascarino played football for Ireland even though he later admitted having no connection at all). They are abusing the system to play international sport. It's wrong and makes a mockery of the asylum process. 

Play for the country you are born in, or your parents are from. Residency is fine too if you genuinely live somewhere. But moving somewhere to get a chance to play sport at a better standard just doesn't seem right.