African players playing for European countries

Bastian

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Taken from @TenonTen in the Mourinho thread:




This is an interesting discussion, not least in view of Mejbri's decision to represent Tunisia, who was born in France to Tunisian parents. For the record, I'm not condoning players' decisions being curbed by FIFA at all, but I'm interested in an overview of the African (ancestry) talent in Europe.

Can we compile a list of players born in Africa who represent European countries internationally?

Born in Africa:

Desailly (Ghana)
Viera (Senegal)
Makalele (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Born in Europe to African parents:

Mbappe (Algeria/Cameroon)
Zidane (Algeria)
Benzema (Algeria)
 

antk

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Mourinho does not dictate which countries players with two nationalities get to call their "homeland".

+ calling European players "African" because of their origins has very racist connotations, at least here in France
 

hasanejaz88

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Germany has seen plenty of players born and raised here go and play for counties of their parents, Turkey and Croatia mostly. Also have benefited from players born elsewhere and moving to Germany (Klose, Podolski).

I don't think you can ban such a thing, even if a kid is born in one country but is raised in another, and went through complete football schooling from that country, they shouldn't be disallowed from representing them. I do find it a bit unfair that a player uses the resources of one countries football federation but then goes to play for another country that didn't put in the same amount of investment.

In any case, it should completely be up to they players themselves who they want to represent.
 

horsechoker

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I get where Mourinho is coming from but isn't it better that players can decide on an individual who they want to represent?

I feel there's so much more to building a successful national team on top of the players and let's not forget that Africa is a continent and not one country. If we took the French players of African origin and put them into their respective national teams would they be capable of winning a world cup?

If we took a different example, would putting the German players of Turkish origin into the Turkish national team be right? Would it make Turkey would champions?

What do we do in the case of mixed-nationality players?

Players who come from a family of one nationality but were living in a different country for a few generations?

And then we have the cases where players have represented a weaker in footballing terms nation when they could represent a strong national side such as Mahrez and Bale.

There's a lot of questions to consider and I feel the current rules allow a decent amount of flexibility on which countries a player wishes to represent
 

Dante

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I can see what he's trying to say. But I think this would do more harm than good.
Mourinho does not dictate which countries players with two nationalities get to call their "homeland".

+ calling European players "African" because of their origins has very racist connotations, at least here in France
I agree with this.
 

TwoSheds

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Yeah this discussion seems dumb. If you were born in Eritrea but chose to flee to Europe to escape the government and then became a successful footballer, then I'm not sure you'd look too kindly on being forbidden from playing for your adoptive country.

Perhaps Mourinho was just trying to say how good the African players are but not sure his suggestion is helpful.
 

Vidyoyo

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Well France is the obvious one and looking at their recent call ups only Steve Mandanda (born in Zaire) qualifies. Everybody else was born in France.

Other examples:

Nani and Rolando born in Cape Verde
Benteke born in DR Congo
Gerald Asamoah in Ghana
Evra in Senegal

I'm not convinced they'd make enough difference to win a world cup, past or present.

Edit - Misread slightly but 'that of their origin' is very loose. You shouldn't expect players born in Europe to play for African teams just because that's where their parents were born.

Edit edit - If Mourinho is making a statement that more economically prosperous countries benefit above African countries because people move to Europe then he's generally right.
 
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Bertie Wooster

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African nations obviously 'lose' / miss out on some players who opt to represent other countries that they're qualified to play for.

But there's far more that were born and raised in Europe but opt to represent African or Caribbean countries instead. So if you start forcing players to only represent the country of their birth, it will overall, prove to the detriment of those national sides rather than strengthen them as, for every quality home grown player they wouldn't lose, there'd be plenty more from other - mostly European - countries that they could no longer benefit by selecting.

If you look at the national sides, there's far more French, Portuguese, English, etc, born players representing African / Caribbean countries, than there are African born players representing European nations. So limiting players to only play for the county of their birth - not being able to choose between those they qualify for - would hurt the African / Caribbean nations a lot more than the European ones.
 
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Bastian

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I get where Mourinho is coming from but isn't it better that players can decide on an individual who they want to represent?

I feel there's so much more to building a successful national team on top of the players and let's not forget that Africa is a continent and not one country. If we took the French players of African origin and put them into their respective national teams would they be capable of winning a world cup?

If we took a different example, would putting the German players of Turkish origin into the Turkish national team be right? Would it make Turkey would champions?

What do we do in the case of mixed-nationality players?

Players who come from a family of one nationality but were living in a different country for a few generations?

And then we have the cases where players have represented a weaker in footballing terms nation when they could represent a strong national side such as Mahrez and Bale.

There's a lot of questions to consider and I feel the current rules allow a decent amount of flexibility on which countries a player wishes to represent
It's hard to say, but looking at that talent from Algeria, I mean Mbappe and Benzema could be playing there together, and Benzema could have maybe played for two years with Zidane there as well. If we're talking players born in a country, it's hard to imagine Senegal not being a lot better with Patrick Vieira and Patrice Evra.

I agree with @TwoSheds in that Mourinho is probably trying to say something else while suggesting something that's at best un-freedom.
 

jem

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African nations obviously 'lose' / miss out on some players who opt to represent other countries that they're qualified to play for.

But there's far more that were born and raised in Europe but opt to represent African or Caribbean countries instead. So if you start forcing players to only represent the country of their birth, it will overall, prove to the detriment of those national sides rather than strengthen them as, for every quality home grown player they wouldn't lose, there'd be plenty more from other - mostly European - countries that they could no longer benefit by selecting.

If you look at the national sides, there's far more French, Portuguese, English, etc, born players representing African / Caribbean countries, than there are African born players representing European nations. So limiting players to only play for the county of their birth - not being able to choose between those they qualify for - would hurt the African / Caribbean nations a lot more than the European ones.
This was what I was thinking: players such as Mahrez, Aubameyang, Haller, and Zaha spring to mind, and I'm sure there are more.
 

Dante

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The question is: is it more important for an African nation to be able to call themselves world champions; or is it more important for black people born in multicultural European nations to feel like they belong in the land in which they were raised?

There's merit to both propositions at a symbolic level. But the first doesn't really do anything positive for regular people in their everyday lives. Whereas the second actually helps to sows the seeds of acceptance and togetherness.
 

Bertie Wooster

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This was what I was thinking: players such as Mahrez, Aubameyang, Haller, and Zaha spring to mind, and I'm sure there are more.
Oh, yeah, there's a huge number of them.

I used to make loads of notes about players all around the world, and squads of international Tournaments such as World Cups, African Nations, etc - and many of the African squads often had plenty of European, mostly French and Portuguese, born players.

Morocco being one of the biggest beneficiaries. And a quick glance at their latest squad shows, once again, plenty born in France, Belgium, Holland, etc. I'm not sure how many Moroccan born players they've lost to other national teams over the years, but I'm sure the number is miniscule compared to the number of European born and raised players that they've subsequently selected.
 

jem

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Oh, yeah, there's a huge number of them.

I used to make loads of notes about players all around the world, and squads of international Tournaments such as World Cups, African Nations, etc - and many of the African squads often had plenty of European, mostly French and Portuguese, born players.

Morocco being one of the biggest beneficiaries. And a quick glance at their latest squad shows, once again, plenty born in France, Belgium, Holland, etc. I'm not sure how many Moroccan born players they've lost to other national teams over the years, but I'm sure the number is miniscule compared to the number of European born and raised players that they've subsequently selected.
I think Kevin Prince Boateng is another - I’m sure there are more.
 

Cloud7

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Surely it should be up to the player to decide which country more feels like “home” and that they want to represent, if there is more than one option?
 

kthanksbye

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I don't think there's anything racist here. But players should have the right to chose which country they want to play for.

My opinion is that it doesn't matter which country they're born in or are racially from. If their footballing education has been in a European country, then they're a product of that country, regardless of where they were born.
 

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Players if they have the choice should be able to decide. Not sure why he singled out African players? It isn’t exclusive to them!
I mean how would Haaland be included in the England team?
 

The Boy

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Identity and belonging are very powerful things and it is rightly everyone’s personal choice.
 

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It all depends who he's talking about. If he's saying players born in Europe shouldn't be allowed play for European teams he's getting into very dodgy territory.
 

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It is a bit of a simplistic viewpoint. Nationality is based on parentage or place of birth in most places, and it would be very unfair to prevent players from playing for their countries of birth just because they're of African descent. The failure of African countries to win the World cup is more complex than that.
 

Oranges038

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I don't think there's anything racist here. But players should have the right to chose which country they want to play for.

My opinion is that it doesn't matter which country they're born in or are racially from. If their footballing education has been in a European country, then they're a product of that country, regardless of where they were born.
They do have this right.

They can play for the country they are born or the country of their parents or grandparents.

For any other country all they have to do is become a citizen of that country. It's why Jorginho plays for Italy, why Diego Costa played for Spain, why Eduardo played for Croatia.

Edit. Read it wrong as was pointed out to me. They do and should have the right to play for which ever country they like, once they are a citizen of that country.
 
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FatTails

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What a terrible idea. Basically you could be born in a place, grow up there, go its schools, be part of its culture and tradition, then be forced to represent a country your parents came from before you were born, and to which you might have never been and have absolutely no connection.

Nothing wrong with the current setup. Also, Jose should try letting “African” players (or more accurately folks with multiple citizenships whose African heritage he cares about) talk about the issue and make the choices that work for them.
 

SalfordRed18

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Well he's trying to make a point that Africa has talent but at the end of the day it's down to the player to choose. Silly suggestion really.
 

Bertie Wooster

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They do have this right.

They can play for the country they are born or the country of their parents or grandparents.

For any other country all they have to do is become a citizen of that country. It's why Jorginho plays for Italy, why Diego Costa played for Spain, why Eduardo played for Croatia.
They currently have the right to choose, yes.

I assume @kthanksbye was referencing Mourinho's suggestion in the OP, where he was calling for that right to be taken away for some players so that European born players with African heritage had to represent that African nation and couldn't choose to represent the country in which they were born and raised (e.g. Mbappe wouldn't have been allowed to play for France, etc).
 

Oranges038

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They currently have the right to choose, yes.

I assume @kthanksbye was referencing Mourinho's suggestion in the OP, where he was calling for that right to be taken away for some players so that European born players with African heritage had to represent that African nation and couldn't choose to represent the country in which they were born and raised (e.g. Mbappe wouldn't have been allowed to play for France, etc).
Looks like I read it wrong.
 

matherto

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I think it's a bit silly allowing players to choose who they represent at national level.

Especially so since they let a senior player who had played for the senior national team play for someone else. The choice made slightly more sense at youth level but not at senior level.

But then you do get things like Declan Rice, born and raised in England so really should be an England player but having done all the youth games for Ireland, he should be a Republic of Ireland player.
 

awop

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This topic is always thinly (or not) veiled with racism. There is so many layers to it that locking you up to a place you didnt chose to be born in is beyond stupid.
 

matherto

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This topic is always thinly (or not) veiled with racism. There is so many layers to it that locking you up to a place you didnt chose to be born in is beyond stupid.
I think if you're born somewhere, grow up there and live there then you should represent there and not have the choice to represent somewhere else due to family history so the opposite side of having to represent a country you didn't grow up in/have never been to/etc.

Does that make me a thinly veiled racist or?
 

Charles Miller

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Someone born in europe is an european. Mentioning where his/her parents come from is incomprehensible, a form of alienation, or saying they dont really belong there. But i believe Mourinho just expressed himself badly. I dont think he would say that with an obscure inttention at all.
 

TsuWave

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They’re not African players if they’re playing for European countries
 

The Original

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I get where Mourinho is coming from but isn't it better that players can decide on an individual who they want to represent?

I feel there's so much more to building a successful national team on top of the players and let's not forget that Africa is a continent and not one country. If we took the French players of African origin and put them into their respective national teams would they be capable of winning a world cup?

If we took a different example, would putting the German players of Turkish origin into the Turkish national team be right? Would it make Turkey would champions?

What do we do in the case of mixed-nationality players?

Players who come from a family of one nationality but were living in a different country for a few generations?

And then we have the cases where players have represented a weaker in footballing terms nation when they could represent a strong national side such as Mahrez and Bale.

There's a lot of questions to consider and I feel the current rules allow a decent amount of flexibility on which countries a player wishes to represent
I think Mourinho is just playing to his huge African fanbase.

But to answer that part of your contribution on the topic, it could.

If all African players had to play for their country of descent you'd find that a few countries already on the fore would be strengthened tremendously.

Nigeria, for example, would suddenly have:

David Alaba
Saka
Eze
Olise
Musiala

Thats half an outfield complement of very good to world class players in addition to a team that;s not too shabby already. Would it make them world cup winners? Impossible to say but that would be a decent team.
 

GodlovesUnited

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Edit edit - If Mourinho is making a statement that more economically prosperous countries benefit above African countries because people move to Europe then he's generally right.
I assume that’s the essence of what he’s saying. That the economic imbalances between African and European countries mean that millions of Africans move to Europe to try and make better lives for themselves. The same goes for poorer European countries and other poor nations in terms of moving to richer European countries/the United States.

Jose certainly has a point that there are many talented footballers who have ancestral ties to Africa, and it would be cool if Senegal or Ghana won the World Cup. But he leaves out the root causes of why so many Africans live in Europe. Essentially, it’s a pretty shallow take on the effects of colonialism.

It’s an issue that isn’t limited to football and obviously affects the socioeconomic environments in the global south (Africa, South America, South Asia, etc.).
 

awop

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I think if you're born somewhere, grow up there and live there then you should represent there and not have the choice to represent somewhere else due to family history so the opposite side of having to represent a country you didn't grow up in/have never been to/etc.

Does that make me a thinly veiled racist or?
He's clearly not talking about players that would fit that first description though. And which player was born there, grew up there, "lives in Africa" and play for another nation ?
A lot of things can happen during the first 18/19 years of your life and the life of your native country. It can be extremely unfair.
Add in the big corruption issues in football and political organizations all over the continent (of course these also exist in Europe).
 

Idxomer

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African nations underperforming in the World Cup has little to do with this issue.
 

RedDevilCanuck

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Hargreaves was born and raised in Calgary until 16. To me that makes you canadian no matter what accent you speak with.

But I understand why he played for England. 99.9999% would do the same. All good. Bigger and better times ahead.
 

sglowrider

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There are only 11 players a side. If Jose's idea is implemented then many deserving players will not get the opportunity of playing at World Cups. Nor will we get to enjoy watching them play.