The degree of insularity in the national soccer squads: Italy worst, France best

Examine the rosters of the national squads of the countries that have the biggest drawing domestic leagues, the big six in Europe: Germany, Spain, England, Netherlands, Italy, and France.
You will find that the Italian and Spanish squads have no players of any other ethnicity other than their own. Italy does not even have one player playing for another league other than their Serie.
Spain is better, having Cesc Fabregas and Jose Antonio Reyes playing for Arsenal. Pepe Reina and Luis Garcia for Liverpool. And Asier Del Horno for Chelsea.
Germany has two players of Ghanian origin, David Odonkor and Gerald Asamoah, and they also have Jens Lehmann playing for Arsenal and Robert Huth for Chelsea.
Netherlands has Hedwiges Maduro, from Aruba and Khalid Boulahrouz of Algerian extraction. They also have Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Edwin Van Der Saar of Man U, Arjen Robben of Chelsea, Jan Kronkamp of Liverpool, Giovanni Von Bronckhorst and Mark Van Bommel of Barcelona FC, and Rafael Van Der Waart of Hamburg.
England have a number of players of Cariibbean origin playing in their national squad. Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, David James, Theo Walcott, Jermaine Jenas, and Aaron Lennon. Two of their players play overseas, David Beckham for Real Madrid and Owen Hargreaves for Bayern Munich.
But topping all of them feet down is France. If there ever was cause for celebration of colonialism in France, then one need not look beyond their national soccer squad. It is hard to spot a single Gallic player. Look at France’s famed midfield- Vikash Dhorasoo (Paris Saint-Germain), Alou Diarra (Lens), Claude Makelele (Chelsea), Florent Malouda (Lyon), Patrick Vieira (Juventus), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid). All from former French colonies, the Pied Noires. Not one player of pure Gallic extraction.
And the number of French exports is impressive- Jean-Alain Boumsong (Newcastle), Pascal Chimbonda (Wigan), William Gallas (Chelsea), Willy Sagnol (Bayern Munich), Mikael Silvestre (Manchester United), Lilian Thuram (Juventus),Claude Makelele (Chelsea), Patrick Vieira (Juventus), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid), Djibril Cisse (Liverpool), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), David Trezeguet (Juventus), and Louis Saha (Manchester United).
If the degree of insularity is equated with the degree of nationalism, then Italy is the most nationalisic football team. That is the conservative interpretation. But by the same token it also has the most racist fans and players. No league is perfect but the Italian Serie has to top them all.
Lazio, AS Roma, Udinese, Juventus, and Inter MIlan are almost always cited. The racism in the smaller clubs is appalling. Aaron Winters, Ronnie Rosenthal, Marc Zoro, Bruno N’Gotty, and countless others have been victims of racism. We have an openly racist Mussolini goon playing for Lazio.
Followed by La Liga in Spain. In Zaragoza, Real Betis, and FC Barcelona. Ask Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, and Shaun Wright Philips.
In Germany, the situation in the Bundesliga is getting a wee bit better, depending on which part of the country you play in. The regional clubs are pretty bad. A far right group that demanded German nationalism in their team was recently in the news for targeting Patrick Owomoyela
In Netherlands, the Feyenoord fans can get nasty. DaMarcus Beasley can tell you about racism playing for PSV Eindhoven.
England’s EPL clubs do not have a record of overt racism although there was a recent incident involving Robin Van Persie. Simon Jordan has a good article of how the English League has managed to combat racism. And in France the hooligans of PSG can get pretty vocal.
The most liberal interpretation of a mutiracial national soccer squad- they play the most interesting and innovative soccer. France. Followed by the Netherlands and England. And then there is Germany, Spain, and lastly Italy.
* Tony Karon draws my attention to the Pied Noires, a pejorative term for white people living in the French colonies who were repatriated during the course of their independence, and not the indigenous people. Thanks for the correction, Tony.

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One comment on “The degree of insularity in the national soccer squads: Italy worst, France best
  1. Nice post, Shourin — but one point of terminology: “Pied Noir” in French culture is a pejorative term for “white” French people born in the colonies, i.e. the settlers. It isn’t used for the people indigenous to the colonies

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