where globalization takes precedence – The Undefeated

When Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez arrived from the 55 ‘penalty to try to take the advantage against his French neighbor on Monday, even commentator Jon Champion took note of the left-back’s fascinating lineage even before he was about to kick the ball.

“The responsibility for taking it lies with a man born in Zurich to a Spanish father, a Chilean mother, playing in Italy – a veteran, over 10 years with the national team,” said the Englishman. “No ordinary penalty, that.”

The point free kick was saved, but the Swiss won the match and knocked out FIFA world champions France from Euro 2020, a perfect synthesis of the change that has taken place over the past 20 years. of the international team. soccer. It is no longer just the traditional neocolonial world powers that can use their once violent might to dominate the sports world, but the nations that accept many as their own can compete as well.

Euro 2020 is the name of the tournament, but as the year that changed our lives forever, nothing is quite the same. On the one hand, it is played in 2021. More importantly, there is no single host country. It was on purpose, but it’s still a little weird. For participating nations, the lists themselves tell the story of a world changed not just by a virus, but by years of the most powerful force on earth in the modern world: globalization.

Across Europe, the rhythms and patterns of human movements and their effects on the continent have never been more evident than they are today on the ground. So-called traditional powers have faces in places we never would have thought of before and with new FIFA classification rules allowing players much more freedom in choosing which part of their legacy they wish to represent in. their quest for silverware.

Indeed, if your parents or grandparents had a significant connection with a certain country, a player is eligible to play for that country, if he wishes. On this side of the pond, Jordan Siebatcheu, who plays for the United States national team, was eligible to represent three nations: Cameroon, France and the United States. He chose the Americans, but he doesn’t even speak English.

While the stories of Belgian superstar Romelu Lukaku and English stars Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are relatively well known, there are a few characters who have marked the tournament whose footprints are less known to the world, but are just as fun and informative.

Take Alexander Isak, the Swede whose side won Group E with exactly zero concessions in the group stage. Born to Eritrean parents in Stockholm County, he is now arguably the face of Swedish football, overtaking the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose recent antics have proven his worldview has not progressed with the rest of the world.

Isak is Sweden’s youngest goalscorer, and as a player for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga and Real Sociedad in the Spanish La Liga, the 21-year-old’s world travels are already quite impressive.

In 2019, nearly 45,000 Eritreans lived in Sweden. According to the Swedish Migration Agency, nearly 2,000 Eritreans have sought asylum in the Scandinavian nation, seeking to escape gross human rights violations committed by their government, according to the United Nations, a situation so serious that the organization set up a relocation program across Europe in 2015 to provide Eritreans safe passage to other countries for refugees, a situation that has not always been greeted with open arms.

According to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, “the government of Eritrea is responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations which have created a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled, much of the population is subjected to forced labor and imprisonment. , and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the country.

But family reunification has been a problem at large, and forced military service in the country has caused more people to flee, with no guarantees of acceptance where they land.

The country best known for its blonde hair and blue eyes is ruled by a young black man, like it or not, who was born there. And they lost in a thriller and a half in Sweden’s knockout match with another fascinating nation, Ukraine.


“It’s a very emotional moment. I am extremely happy to become a citizen of Ukraine and to have the chance to play for the national team. I need time to learn the language.

In September 2017, these are the words of Marlos, born in São José dos Pinhais in Brazil. He moved to Ukraine in 2012 to play for FC Shakhtar Donetsk after they paid him a big bonus to do so. In short, for the right price, you too can live in a relatively isolated country to play the game you love.

Of course, this option introduces a difficult subject. For years the lifeblood of national team football has clearly been nationalism. If people can basically buy passports to play football, then are we tearing up the very fabric of what it means to be a citizen? So how is this different from club football, where so many players move from team to team hoping to earn glory?

Well, in Marlos’ case, he fully agreed. He has won the title of Ukrainian footballer of the year three times. He lives there. For a Brazilian turned Ukrainian, that’s not the typical direction the trade winds blow, if you will.

But for someone to change their country of residence to pursue their dreams? Who is to stop them. Countries all over Europe are taking advantage of their territorial relations with places they have conquered by violence or other means in order to improve their position in various fields. In other words, if governments can fill their coffers with the residue of colonialism and conquest, players should be able to use that same power to play a game. That’s one reason like any other, like so many other migrant workers. in the world who do all they can for a living.

If a nation is ready to have you, who is FIFA, let alone UEFA, not to allow it? If the 1998 World Cup France squad may be full of players whose legacy is rooted in the violent takeovers of world conquest, there’s no reason to frown, just because one guy brown skin is competing for a Balkan nation.

Zinedine Zidane, the star of this team, a Muslim of Kabyle Algerian origin whose parents emigrated to Paris before the Algerian war in the 1950s, was their star child. Patrick Vieira, another star of this team, his family moved from Senegal to France when he was a child. His surname is Portuguese. Her mother is from Cape Verde, and that’s her maiden name.

Thierry Henry, perhaps the best known of the team in the United States – his father is from Guadeloupe and his mother is from Martinique. These islands in the Atlantic Ocean don’t just speak French because they love the language.

Sorry Ukraine didn’t just conquer a country for a football team, they did it the right way instead.

“It was his own decision. This is very good news for Shakhtar as we now have one more Ukrainian player. It’s also good for the Ukrainian team, ”Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca said in 2017 after Marlos posted a photo of him with his new passport on social media.

“Marlos is a quality player with exceptional personal qualities. I think he will be of great help for the Ukrainian national team.

It’s a chance he deserves if he’s willing to take the relative “risk” of leaving his home country to raise another.


Vienna is known as one of the most classic cities in Europe. The large performance halls, the traditional dirndl dresses, everything is celebrated as a typical Austrian tradition, known across the continent. They even have their own form of the German language. But for Austrian national team captain David Alaba, his path to greatness does not descend the Alps that so many skiers descend regularly in this landlocked country.

Having played for Bayern Munich for more than a decade, he is widely regarded as one of the best left-backs in the world. The Austrians have made appearances in the last two Euro tournaments with his leadership, and have won hundreds of appearances with the winners of the Bundesliga and Champions League titles in different seasons over the years.

Although he was born in Vienna, his lineage comes from two continents. Her mother was a Filipino nurse. His father was a Nigerian rapper and DJ. Her sister is also a recording artist. Yes, they are apparently the coolest family in the world.

“We have always had a very close relationship and have done everything together,” Alaba said in an interview in 2018. “Especially when I first came to Munich, I really felt the support of my family and I have come to appreciate it. My parents haven’t missed a single home game yet.

What a view. An Asian nurse and an African prince cheering for their European son. The mutual bond of the family through music should make the game night a blast in their home. Austria couldn’t beat Italy but lost to the Italian side who came close with a late 2-1 victory at Wembley Stadium. The Azzurri, a decidedly favored team with their own fascinating histories of people, were the winners that day, but Alaba will likely soon achieve much greater status than “Big in Europe”.

And if we’re lucky, we might also get a vacation album from the case.

Clinton Yates is a taste designer at The Undefeated. He enjoys rap, rock, reggae, R&B and remixes, in that order.


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Estelle D. Eden

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