Friday, 5 June 2009

Re: Football

The situation with clubs not having players from where they are representing isn't just a football problem, it's in every team sport that exists (or so I believe). Football, rugby, cricket, basketball, baseball, netball...the list goes on. Perhaps the one sport to maybe have overcome the problem is american football where the non-pro sides, the college teams which are a step lower in standard and is a platform to enter the pro-sport, are very much based and consist of players from the area in which the are based. However, even then, players will have come to that college from all over the US and elsewhere and still won't be actually from that area.

The problem is, how do you decide (using Ellie's example) whether someone is from Leeds or not? Must they be born there? Live there? Have lived there for a certain amount of years? Does this mean for someone to play for Leeds United (unfortunates who have a habit of losing play-offs) must be controlled and restricted to certain laws? Not so fair I don't think. Deciding this is even ambiguous in national football, proving how hard it would be if we were to decide playing for clubs on where players come from.

To play for a national side you must have a certain nationality in your family up to grandparents or have taken up a nationality from a country you play in (different countries have different requirements for this). Two players comes straight to mind in this example.

Chris Birchall is maybe one of the most famous unknown players for choosing nationality. In 2006 he was playing for Port Vale in England's third tier of football but came to national fame in the summer when he travelled to Germany for the World Cup. Not with England but with Trinidad and Tobago who he could play for due to his mother's Trinidadian nationality. This fame got him a move to Coventry City after the summer of 2006 and he is imminently now joining LA Galaxy to play alongside international superstar David Beckham. The decision to play for Trinidad and Tobago almost definitely has come from a realisation that his ability wasn't enough to play for England and he would get an international cap, and inevitably more coverage, by playing for the country of his mother.
The second player that comes to mind who has decided which country to play for from a selection of countries is Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva. He is one of Croatia's best players. He doesn't sound East-European though does he? He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but after being scouted by Dinamo Zagreb at the age of 16 he took Croatian nationality in 2002, at 19 years old. Was this because he would be more likely to get into the Croatian side rather than Brazil? That may be true. However, was it actually that he moved to Croatia at a young age, fell in love with the country and decided he wanted to represent the country which he loved?

I hope this has explained some reasons as to why club football is not ruled by where a player is from. Having club football with lots of different nationalities, backgrounds and skill is what makes it very interesting and exciting for those who love it. Transfer Deadline Day is often one of the most exciting days of the season; who will your team buy, who will go, which rumours will be show to be true? Seeing Robinho move to Manchester City last year was very exciting and shocking...who needs Eastenders?! It also gives cities and towns coverage which they may never get otherwise. Who'd know where Gretna was if they hadn't been led to the SPL a couple of seasons ago? With a population of around 1, 000 they wouldn't have if only Gretnish (spelling) people played for them.
It also gives way to have multiple teams in one city. Although I don't like the hundreds of teams from London, Man Utd-Man City, Liverpool-Everton, Aston Villa-Birmingham City matches are all big derby matches which most other matches don't compare to in terms of passion and excitement.

The diversity in football is also good for international friendships. When I saw Colchester United play Leicester City this season their fans were chanting USA to one of their American players and there are Bulgarian flags sold outside the Walkers Stadium in support of our stone in defence, Aleksander Tunchev.

All in all, I think it would be very hard for any restrictions on playing club football, if not impossible. We see how hard it can be for national teams and if nationality is a problem, coming from a certain town or city will be also. If a player wants to represent a certain city or town, then let them;if not to increase the success of the player on team, maybe just because they might like the town and people. I think having different backgrounds etc. in teams in fact makes club football what it is. It makes it more exciting, more passionate and even increases international relations. Football could restore world peace if it was given the chance!
Afterall, Germany and England had a football match on Christmas Day in World War One in a day of ceasefire...