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Mbappé, a Parisian of African parents, has suffered years of racist attacks in his own country, which made him consider not playing for the French team again. “I said, ‘I can’t play for people who think I’m a monkey. I am not going to play”, he revealed to “Sports Illustrated”, although he later backed down. “Giving up was not a good message. This is the new France […]. That’s why I didn’t give up the selection”.

But if racist attacks hit a star from the country he represents in football, those born in a different nation may be more common targets. A few days ago, the midfielder of the French team Eduardo Camavinga, born in Angola, was blamed by several French fans for the injury that left Christopher Nkunku without the World Cup. “Go back to Africa” ​​was one of the phrases that was read the most against him.

Camavinga is one of 137 Qatar 2022 players who will play for countries other than the ones they were born in, showing just how multicultural and diverse soccer teams are these days. Specifically, 28 of the 32 teams have nationalized footballers.

The four nations that make up the exceptions are: Argentina, Brazil, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, which have all of their players born in their country.

The most global tournament

Although the teams that have more players born in another country are Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Qatar, Wales, Australia and Cameroon [ver gráfico]it is interesting that the nation that exports the most soccer players is France, with 36 athletes divided into teams from Africa, Asia and Europe.

For the journalist Bruno Rivas, author of the book “Political Guide to the Russia 2018 Soccer World Cup”, the fact that many teams have players whose families are not from those countries is explained by a globalization process, which can be recognized from the beginning of the repopulation of the world

In the case of the national teams, this is much more evident because we are going to find, for example, a French national team that is multicolored, multiracial, in the sense that France is now also a consequence of the movement of migrations from Africa and Arab countries. , of people who sought better living conditions at the time and now we have players like Mbappé or Varané as a consequence”, he tells El Comercio.


Jorge Illa, a doctor with a thesis on sports and politics and a professor at the UPC, points out that the presence of this type of team is not a great novelty, although perhaps it is more striking now because in Russia 2018 these players did not reach 90. “Globalization has a lot to do with it.”, he tells El Comercio. However, he points out that if France is the country that contributes the most players to other teams, it is because they are looking for an opportunity that they will hardly find in their own nation.

France is the current world champion, getting to play there must be one of the most difficult things. For this reason, many players who were born in France are going to play for the countries of their parents. As globalization has turned players into global brands, they take advantage of that to be in the number 1 showcase for sports brands, which is the World Cup.”, he adds.

An important fact: 42.3% of the footballers who will represent the five African teams in Qatar 2022 were born in Europe.

in search of talent

There are some exceptions, like the Spanish Iñaki Williams, who plays for Atlético de Bilbao and chose to go with Ghana in this World Cup.

A factor to take into account in non-European countries is the degree of investment that occurs in the Old Continent to soccer issues.

Why does Peru look abroad to repatriate a Lapadula or an Ormeño? It is because finally in Europe there are greater chances of growth, there is more investment in smaller divisions. There is also a logic behind knowing that you are going to find a player abroad who is probably more technical and gifted than the one you can find in your country. Or in any case, the universe expands. There are countries that do not need it, such as Argentina or Brazil, but there are others that do.”, Rivas points out.

Many countries are feeding on what were migrations due to economic factors. Just as there is a brain drain for doctors, there has also been a brain drain for soccer players.

Racism, nonsense

As for racism, Rivas considers that not considering players like Mbapé, Karim Benzemá or Zinedine Zidane to be French corresponds to a view that is too outdated for current terms. “The issue of France and migration is not new. Michel Platini, the great figure of the French team in the 80s, came from an Italian migration to France. For France it is a custom that its selection has been nourished by migrations“, remember.

He considers that the racist and discriminatory reactions that are seen now may come from the fact that we live in a moment in which processes such as globalization have been put into discussion with issues of Brexit, speeches such as Donald Trump’s or neo-fascist movements in Europe.

From there I can recognize the racist chants, in addition, soccer has been a space where generally expressions called politically incorrect often have space, unfortunately “says Rivas.

Illa recalls that racism occurred even with Zidane’s team, the world champion in 1998, where there were players, like Zinedine Zidane himself, who did not come from what many considered traditional France. “But as soon as that is won, it is forgotten, it goes to the background. If you win, no problem. The performance component influences. If you were born in another country and because of your parents or grandparents you are competing in my team, if you win I will forgive you everything. But if you lose, I will say that because of you another born in the country itself could not participate and that the shirt would have felt better”, he comments.

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