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Are National Team Migrants Killing the Essence of Football?

After the Swiss national team reached the quarter-finals of the European Football Championship, some fans resented the fact that 17 of the 26 players on this team’s squad are migrants in the first or second generation. Say, this is a vivid illustration of the loss by the European teams of their national style. And Switzerland is clearly not the same here: a similar trend has long been observed in the teams of France, Germany, England, Sweden and others. This allegedly deprives international tournaments of their identity and confuses fans who traditionally want to root for “their own” precisely on a national basis. But is this problem really so terrible and do the national teams need quotas for the “title” nations?

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First, the ethnic purity of football teams has very little to do with their style of play. “Foreigners” began to appear in the national teams long before the current migration waves. In the French national team, at the 1982 World Cup, played a native of Mali Jean Tigana, a native of Guadeloupe, Jean Tresor, and later the Spaniard Luis Fernandez joined that great team. I’m not talking about the French national team at the 2000 European Championship, where Lama (Guiana), Desailly (Ghana), Thuram and Henri (Guadeloupe), Djorkaeff (Armenia), Vieira (Senegal), Zidane (Algeria), Karambe (New Caledonia), Anelka (Martinique) and Trezeguet (Argentina). Can we say that that team played non-French football 20 years ago and was not supported by French fans?

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Secondly, migrants in rich countries are generally a very long history, and there is an opinion that they do not dilute the national sports style, but, on the contrary, enrich it with new colors. At one time, the descendants of Polish miners who emigrated to the West at the beginning of the 20th century played in many national teams. Children of Spanish political emigrants met in Soviet teams. In Canada, there are representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora of this country. In the Australian – immigrants from the former Yugoslavia. How are all these people fundamentally different from the 17 “come in large numbers” from the current Swiss football team?

Yes, migrants from Africa in Europe are outwardly more visible than Poles, Yugas or Turks. But if we only react to the colour of the skin or the cut of the players’ eyes, it will lead us too far and in the wrong place. As for the increase in the percentage of migrants and their children in European teams, this is a reflection of a trend that has nothing to do with football. In virtually every country in Western and Central Europe, the size of diasporas has increased dramatically over the past decade. The world is getting closer and more global – this is a reality that can no longer be approached with the yardsticks of the 1960s.

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