#WorldCup and the positive power of the children of immigrants..

I sat up to watch the English match on Saturday, and it struck me (again) just how the EPL has probably terminally gutted any home nations (plus the Republic) team from developing enough home grown talent to compete for a place in the World Cup finals.

Even amongst English people there’s recognition that their own team is just one of many others in the competent but not great category: a function of the greater competition for first team places in their domestic league.

This has a further depressing effect on the chances of Irish, Scots or Welsh players getting time and experience at the top of the domestic game. But, watching England the other night, I think there may be something else at play too.

For me the outstanding outfield players were Welbeck, Sterling and Sturridge. All of them black and children or grandchildren of immigrants.

As this Global Post piece usefully demonstrates sporting excellence across Europe is being carried disproportionately by the sons and daughters of immigrants. In Germany’s case, the loss of immigrant children would be catastrophic:

Germany retain Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes, whose parents were born in Germany though the family has roots in Norway. But they lose superstar Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, whose father was born in Turkey; Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, whose father was born in Tunisia; and Lazio striker Miroslav Klose, who was born in Poland.

They’ll also take the field without Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, who has roots in Ghana; Sampdori defender Shkodran Mustafi, whose parents are Albanians born in Macedonia; and Lukas Podolski, who was born in Poland.



  • I think England are not very good in 2014 and in a state of transition.
    Generally speaking Italy, Germany, France, England, Spain, Holland plus Argentina and Brazil will “always” make it to the Finals.
    Theres a second group….say Sweden, Portugal, Colombia, Mexico (helped by being biggest footballing nation in that federation), Peru, Uruguay, Belgium etc who can make it with a favourable draw.
    Scotland, Ireland, are among nations who generally wont.
    And I cant see any situation where Wales, NI, Luxembourg have a chance (although Iceland came close this year).
    Thats how it is.
    The big nations have a pool of talent that can deal with transition.
    The inbetweeners dont.
    And the minnows dont.

    if the problem lies in the Premier League, then hard to see how it can be fixed without a quota of home grown players. Some Premiership clubs (Chelsea for example) seem more mercenary than for example Liverpool.
    And if players are from a fellow European nation, then how can it be dealt with, without a UKIP type solution.
    For me the real problem is not Yaya Toure, Oscar, Suarez and the like….the problem is mediocre foreigners in the lower leagues.

    Do a simple calculation.
    In the 1960s there were 22 teams ….ie about 400 people playing in a season. Id reckon that was 300 plus English players and 100 Welsh, Scottish and Irish players.
    Im sure less than 100 English players were regulars in a bigger squad Premiership….and I doubt that more than 20 Scottish players played in Premiership….forcing previously decent “First Division” type players down the Leagues.
    While world class players are just that…world class…..there is a heck of a lot of mediocre jobbing professionals touted around Europe in a rootless way. Thats the problem….Agents.

  • Valenciano

    John, interesting list, if a bit Eurocentric. South Korea have made the last 8 world cups, Cameroon have missed only one of the last 7, same as England and the Dutch. Nigeria have only missed one of the last six. Croatia one of the last five. Paraguay were in the 4 before this one.

    On the other hand, Colombia missed the three before this, and as for Peru, no way. They haven’t qualified since 1982 and that’s from a region where half the teams go through.

  • I take that point but in many ways the success of South Korea is due to geographical location rather than world ranking.
    Mexico likewise.
    If Brazil and Argentina failed to qualify…as you say half of the South Americans go thru…it would be a disaster for them.
    but certainly…I have been following World Cup since 1966…and I cant recall a World Cup without them.
    I do recall World Cups with every South American nation except possibly Bolivia or Venezuela.

    In Europe…it is a disaster for Spain, Italy, France (think they have missed out in 1970s), England ( think they missed out twice since 1966), Holland (certainly lost out to Ireland once) Germany if they dont make it.

    There is a Second Seed Group of Nations who can make it with a good qualifying draw and an occasional good team…Sweden,for example. or Czech Republic.
    And others who can find a team once in a generation…

    But notwithstanding, Iceland this year….there are teams we will never see in a World Cup (Luxembourg).

  • dodrade

    Brazil have played in every world cup. England first played in 1950 and missed 1974, 1978 and 1994.

  • Valenciano

    John, France missed both 1990 and 1994. Bolivia were in 1994. I think Venezuela are the only member of that federation never to qualify, due to factors like the strength of baseball locally.

    In Europe, like you say, Germany, Italy, Spain and England would all be expected to reach the knock out stages as a bare minimum. Based on recent tournaments, Portugal and Netherlands would expect to be challenging and Croatia and the Swiss have also been regulars.

    After them, teams likely to be fighting for the last 5 spots next time based purely on “form” would be Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Czech Rep, Serbia, Greece and Slovenia.

    The only other European countries that have been in at least two of the last four world cups are Russia (who’ll qualify as hosts anyway) and Poland, who made 2002 and 2006, but not the last two.

  • runepig

    So if NI ever want to have a hope of qualifying, things will need to move on from the ‘locals only’ mentality (not to mention the increased talent pool an all-Ireland team would provide)?

    Viva el Hiberno-Portugese!