By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor
Fabio Capello has, in the past, been heavily criticised for failing to understand the culture of the nation he manages, so it was almost inevitable that, when commenting on a foreign nation, the England trainer would make a monumental gaffe.
Sure enough, Capello did just that on Friday. Whilst speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference, he criticised Germany for utilising players of mixed background at the 2010 World Cup.
“These players are acquiring new passports,” he said. “Germany had five of Turkish origin who opted to represent them and we all know what happened.”
What happened was Germany’s 4-1 hiding of England in the round of 16.
|GERMANY AT THE 2010 WORLD CUP: Natives born to mixed parents
|Name||Father Nationality||Mother Nationality||Birthplace|
|GERMANY AT THE 2010 WORLD CUP: Immigrants
|Name||Birthplace||Age of Immigration
|Miroslav Klose||Kedzierzyn-Kozle||<1 (to FRA), 7 (to GER)||Yes|
|Marko Marin||Bosanska Gradiska (YUG)||2||Yes|
Capello’s comments on Germany were not the primary focus of his discussion, which included a legitimate criticism of European club football culture. He understandably voiced concern for a system which allows for the poaching of young, talented players by wealthy clubs that can offer incentives for financially-disadvantaged families.
The result of such procedure has monetary value for such households, but comes with the less-savoury effects of dissociating youngsters from their native cultures and maintaining the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in club football. But for Capello to criticise Germany was foolhardy, and smacked of envy and a painfully myopic worldview.
|AFFILIATION OF GERMAN-TURKS | The majority of mixed players choose the TFF
|Mesut Ozil||Gelsenkirchen||Volkan Arslan||Hannover
|*All in Germany except Isparta, Turkey||Gokhan Tore||Koln|
|Note: Turkey internationals included are U21 or have 5+ senior international caps
To begin with, Germany’s World Cup squad included two, not five, players of Turkish descent: Mesut Ozil and Serdar Tasci, both of whom were born to third-generation immigrants. There were others of mixed origin, Dennis Aogo, Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez, and Sami Khedira, but like the Real Madrid and Stuttgart stars, these players were all born in Germany, not poached from modest Nigerian, Ghanaian, Spanish, and Tunisian clubs during their youth.
Sport responds to the development of society. When we open our doors to players with immigrant backgrounds, we welcome everyone. That is the purpose of sport.
- Germany sporting director Matthias Sammer, to Bild
Granted, there were indeed some Germany internationals born on foreign soil, including Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Marko Marin, Piotr Trochowski and Cacau. But Klose Trochowski and Podolski are ethnically as German as they are Polish, and the latter offered himself to Poland and was rejected before finalising his international affiliation. None of the aforementioned, nor was Marin poached by a wealthy club; his family fled war-torn Yugoslavia when Marko was just two years old.
|MIXED ROOTS: CAPELLO'S RECENT CAPS
St. Lucian, Dominican
Not that the above should bear any consequence on the legitimacy of a player’s national affiliation. When Capello spoke of German footballers of Turkish ‘origin’, players of ethnic Turkish background, his words came from an antiquated perspective. The ‘origin’ of these players is Gelsenkirchen, Esslingen, or otherwise. They were raised in German society and, most importantly, trained in Bundesliga academies. Their culture may be mixed, a reality that ought to be celebrated, but their origin is undeniably German. Only their ancestors’ origin, be it parents, grandparents, or even further down the family tree, can be considered to be Turkey.
The ultimate irony is that Capello, born in San Canzian d’Isonzo, Italy, never had any professional ties to the UK before he gladly accepted the FA’s €7 million-per-year offer to fill the vacant role of manager. For such a wage, he'd do better to hold his tongue rather than shame the people of England as he did on Friday.
Follow Clark Whitney on