Arsenal and Stevenage’s Jack Wilshere v England and Pietermaritzburg’s Kevin Pietersen
WHEN Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere (born: Stevenage, Herts) said only English-born players should represent the national team, England cricketer Kevin Pietersen (born: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) tweeted him a question:
“Interested to know how you define foreigner?”Would that include me, [Andrew] Strauss, [Jonathan] Trott, [Matt] Prior, Justin Rose, [Chris] Froome, Mo Farah?”
Pietersen is, as ever, self-aggrandizing. He and Trott ended up playing for England – albeit with English ancestry – specifically as a result of coming here to pursue a professional career for financial gain. Mo Farah came to the UK when he was boy to live with his British-born father. They are not the same.
The debate is a huge grey area. But it’s clear that football is viewed in a more cynical light then other sports, where foreign-born players are readily accepted.
And the list Pietersen cites is one of winners. We all love a champion. It’s very easy to adopt a foreigner who was part of a successful team. But what about the others who don’t win but occupy a slot in place of a British-born athlete? Were they cheated?
Pietersen qualified for England through his mother. He served a four-year qualification period.
“With all due respect Mr Pietersen the question was about football. Cricket, cycling, athletics is not my field.”
“Same difference. It’s about representing your country. IN ANY SPORT.”
The FA is interested in getting Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj to play for England. He is most likely to play for Kosovo – should it ever be recognised by the FA – than waits five years to qualify for England. And he’s no refugee. He has no English ancestry. He came on a contract to play for a huge football team.
A few others join the debate:
Darren Gough: “kp mum is English, he has a right to play for England 100 tests top runscorer of all time for eng.”
Alan Shearer: “I totally understand that the game has evolved and has moved on but I’m of the belief that just because you’ve lived in this country for five or six years it doesn’t mean that you can be playing in the English team.”
Wayne Rooney: “I think England has a lot of different nationalities playing for different [other sport] teams where the football team has been quite traditional and stayed with English players. A lot of other football teams have taken players from other nationalities.”
Stan Collymore: “Criteria for national selection should be parentage or seven-year residency, Would sort out the financial chancers from patriots. If we don’t have sane eligibility criteria, International football becomes club game. May as well scrap it at that point.”
John Fashanu: “Bloody foreigners. Coming over here and taking our places in the national squad. They don’t even tackle as hard as us. #Idiot”
Gary Lineker: “I think @JackWilshere will make a damn fine pundit when he’s out of long socks.”
David Bernstein: “I don’t agree with Jack. If the rules allow you to pick players because they have lived in this country for five or ten years, and other countries do that.”