RIO DE JANEIRO. — It’s not just morons throwing bananas on the field. Far-right political parties are gaining ground in France and the Netherlands.
Most of Germany’s soccer hooligans are now neo-Nazis. And this spring, Switzerland voted to curb immigration, defying the spirit of laws that allow citizens freedom of movement across the European Union.
But amid all the bad blood, has anyone thought about how sending immigrants packing would affect the teams playing the world’s greatest game?
Broadly defining “foreigner” as anyone with at least one foreign-born parent, Switzerland would lose two thirds of its players.
France and the Netherlands might be knocked out of contention. And Algeria, Ghana, Turkey or even Suriname could win it all.
Here’s how the world’s best would stack up in a World Cup with no first generation immigrants.
Brazil retains all of its star players in the no-immigrants-allowed version. Better still, they pick up a few more of their nationals from other country’s teams — Eduardo and Jorge Sammir Cruz Campos from Croatia and Pepe from Portugal.
They lose Eduardo to Brazil. But if we’re generous about allotting the players from the former Yugoslavia, Croatia could get Napoli midfielder Blerim Dzemaili (born in Macedonia) and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri (born in Kosovo) from Switzerland. We’ll send Real Sociedad striker Haris Seferovic, whose parents came from Sanski Most, and FC Zurich striker Mario Gavranovic, whose parents are from Gradacac to Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Despite its proximity to Africa and a decade-long boom that saw immigrants swell from two percent to 12 percent of the population in 2010, Spain retains more than a 50-50 chance of winning Group B in our immigrants-barred game.
It loses Manchester City striker David Silva, whose mother is from Japan, and whose father is from the Canary Islands.
The Dutch lose Dynamo Kiev striker Jeremain Lens, Swansea City goalkeeper Michel Vorm, and AC Milan midfielder Nigel de Jong — all of whom have roots in Suriname.
They also lose Norwich City midfielder Leroy Fer, whose grandfather played for Curacao, and Feyenoord defender Rolando Maximiliano “Bruno” Martins, born in Portugal, and Swansea City midfielder Jonathan de Guzman, whose father was born in Jamaica.
They lose Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who was born in Argentina.
The Azzuri will lose AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, born in Palermo, whose parents immigrated from Ghana.
France can hardly field a team without its immigrants, losing a whopping 12 players from its 23-man squad.
They lose defender Bacary Sagna and Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, whose parents were born in Senegal, and Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who was born in Cape Verde.
They also lose Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy, whose fathers were born in Martinique; Paris St.-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose father was born in Angola; and Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, whose parents were born in the DRC.
Lille midfielder Rio Mavuba, whose father was born in Zaire and mother in Angola; Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko, whose parents were born in Mali; and Marseille midfielder Matthieu Valbuena, whose father was born in Spain, will also be lost.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, whose father was born in Algeria, and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, whose parents were born in Guinea, will also be lost.
Switzerland loses about two-thirds of their players. Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta is of Italian descent, Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler’s parents were born in Turkey, Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka, Napoli midfielder Blerim Dzemaili and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri were all born in the former Yugoslavia, while Real Sociedad striker Haris Seferovic and FC Zurich striker Mario Gavranovic are of Bosnian descent.
Argentina lose Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, of Basque descent, who was born in France. On the plus side, it picks up Juventus striker Pablo Osvaldo from Italy.
Ghana gets back Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng from Germany, his father was born in Ghana, though the brothers were born in Berlin. Ghana picks up AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, whose parents were born in Ghana, from Italy. It also gets Danny Welbeck, whose parents were born in Ghana, from England.
The Germans get our moral support in honour of their recent decision to allow dual to the children of immigrants. But their football team doesn’t look too good without the guys that the red-faced chap at the end of the bar still calls “foreigners.”
Germany 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.
They lose Nani, who was born in Cape Verde, and FC Porto winger Silvestre Varela, whose parents were born there. Lucky for them, Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, whose great grandmother was from Cape Verde, isn’t an immigrant by our rules.
Team United States loses Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, whose parents were born in Haiti; Tim Howard, whose mother is Hungarian; AZ striker Aron Johannsson, who was born to Icelandic parents in Alabama; and Rosenborg midfielder Mix Diskerud, who was born in Norway.
They also lose LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, whose parents were born in Mexico, and Nantes midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, whose father was born in Colombia.
Hertha defender John Brooks, Nurnberg defender Timmy Chandler, Bayern Munich winger Julian Green, Besiktas midfielder Jermaine Jones, and 1899 Hoffenheim defender Fabian Johnson — all of whom were born in Germany or have a German parent – will also be lost.
A strong favorite to win Group H, Belgium loses some stars without its immigrants.
The fathers of both Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku were born in what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Everton striker Kevin Mirallas’ father was born in Spain. Marouane Fellaini’s parents were born in Morocco. FC Zenit Saint Petersburgmidfielder Axel Witsel’s father is from Martinique.
And Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele’s father was born in Mali. — Global Post.