what’s in a nationality
Last Updated : GMT 12:45:25
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Last Updated : GMT 12:45:25
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What’s in a nationality?

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what’s in a nationality

Umar Farooq

Football is undoubtedly a global game. Across countries and beyond boundaries, it brings races, cultures and creeds together. It unites and divides fans like no other sport. And despite some recent negative press, not many would doubt that it is indeed a force for good. However, last month saw some interesting cases come to light, in particular during the January transfer window - the month when football agents look to cash in by unsettling their clients. Funnily enough, the focus this year shifted to player's nationalities and whether too many players from one country at a club could unsettle the dressing room. English Premier League club Newcastle United signed five French players from Ligue 1 last month, taking the French quota in their squad to 41 percent - the highest of any club in England. Following this, the media began questioning the upshot of such a decision, articulating fears of cliques developing within training groups with French players speaking French with their colleagues and living in a shell? History suggested otherwise. Ten years ago, the Arsenal "Invincibles" had a significant number of French players under French manager Arsene Wenger and repeated success after success. Newcastle’s model of recruiting from Ligue 1 has done wonders for the club, so why would there be any fears. Surely if you are good enough, nationality should not matter. A more extreme case involving a lower profile club caused outrage in Belgium. KV Turnhout, a Third Division team, signed 14 Egyptian players from Wadi Degla in a desperate bid to avoid relegation. Although it should not matter, it did to Belgian Football Association secretary general Steven Martens, who described the mass signing as “a totally distorted situation.” Fourteen is a big number and an even bigger gamble than Newcastle’s five Frenchman, so one could argue it would take longer for them to settle in. Martens’ concerns, however, revolved around the lack of young Belgian talent being signed, as the lower division is where these players are supposed to get their chance. Furthermore, Belgium Third Division teams usually average less than three non-EU players thus it is fair to say that this argument is completely understandable - you would never see English League Two team Bradford City signing 15 Afghans, the majority of players will always be English. Nevertheless, in some countries politics is threatening to scar this beautiful game. Take Israel as an example. Last month, Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem signed two players, Gibril Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev, from Chechnya. Their loyal fans objected to the move, merely due to the fact that the duo were Arab. "We are against coexistence. Beitar represents Israel, not the Arabs," a fan told Wall Street Journal, "We will make their lives miserable," he added. I believe that nationality should not really matter in football, but slowly, and surely this discrimination is starting to become the ugly face of the beautiful game. Last week, Beitar fans went on the rampage in Jerusalem chanting “death to the Arabs” and “a Jew has a soul and an Arab is a son of a whore.” Fans are marginalising two players from their own team and targeting them with racist abuse - how is this justifiable? If they are chanting such abuse at their own players, I would expect Beitar to ban them for life. There’s loyalty and then there is stupidity and I’m sure FIFA would agree this case falls in the latter category. --- The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.  

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what’s in a nationality what’s in a nationality


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