The country of birth most likely to be rejected by a World Cup footballer, to play for somebody else, is France. No fewer than 25 French-born footballers will represent other teams in Brazil, ahead of Germany (14) and Brazil (5). The sole English-born player to play for another country is the Lambeth-born Middlesborough striker Albert Adomah. Having lived in Ghana until he was nine, and who has seized an unlikely chance to play at a World Cup for the Black Stars. 16 of the Algerian squad of 23 being born in France. This partly reflects an active Algerian strategy of diaspora recruitment, broadly similar to that which took the Republic of Ireland to several World Cups. But do the number of French-born players in the Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast sides also say something about the shortcomings of French integration?
Cameroon player Assou-Ekotto, born in Arras, France to a French-born mother, thinks that it does. He has spoken about his surprise at finding that his black British Tottenham team-mates naturally think of themselves as English.
He told the Guardian that "the country does not want us to be part of this new France. So we identify ourselves more with our roots. Me playing for Cameroon was a natural and normal thing. I have no feeling for the France national team; it just doesn't exist. When people ask of my generation in France, 'Where are you from?', they will reply Morocco, Algeria, Cameroon or wherever. But what has amazed me in England is that when I ask the same question of people like Lennon and Defoe, they'll say: 'I'm English.' That's one of the things that I love about life here."
France has done rather less with the inclusive patriotism of its World Cup and European champions of 1998 and 2000 than many had anticipated.
Yet the French 2014 squad does again capture the story of migration to France. Two of its players were born abroad - and more than half of the French squad have migrant heritage.Source: New Statesman