October 10, 2013 2:16:24 am
England and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has stirred a debate about foreign-born players in football,declaring that only English people should be eligible to represent the national team,a remark that has irked,among others,South African-born England cricketer Kevin Pietersen. Wilsheres stance was also immediately described as too extreme by the head of the English Football Association.
The issue of foreign-born players being selected by England resurfaced after the FA said it was looking into whether Manchester Uniteds Belgium-born midfielder Adnan Januzaj could play for England. The 18-year-old Januzaj,who joined United in 2011,scored twice on his Premier League debut on Saturday,leading his side to a 2-1 win over Sunderland.
Januzaj could become eligible for England in 2018 on residency grounds if he hasnt played for a senior national team in a competitive fixture by then. He has so far declined to play for Belgium. Because of his parents heritage,he is also eligible to represent Serbia,Albania and Turkey,as well as Kosovo,which is not yet recognized by FIFA.
Wilshere,one of Englands top young stars,does not believe players such as Januzaj should be allowed to pull on an England shirt. The only people who should play for England are English people, the Arsenal player said. If you live in England for five years it doesnt make you English. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain.
We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard,are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat.
Wilshere later reiterated his stance on Twitter,saying: The question was should foreign players be allowed to play for England,and in my opinion I dont think they should! He is a great player…
The England team has long featured players who werent born in the country,including Jamaica-born John Barnes and emerging talent Wilfried Zaha,Januzajs United teammate,who was born in Ivory Coast. Many of the top players in Englands cricket team werent born in the country,including Pietersen,Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior (all born in South Africa).
Pietersen took offence and confronted Wilshere over Twitter,saying: Interested to know how you define foreigner…? Would that include me,(former cricket captain Andrew) Strauss,Trott,Prior,(South African-born US Open-winning golfer) Justin Rose,(Kenyan-born Tour de France- winning cyclist Chris) Froome,(Somalian-born Olympic and world champions athlete) Mo Farah?
Wilshere replied: With all due respect Mr Pietersen the question was about football! Cricket,cycling,athletics is not my field!
But Pietersen was having none of it: Same difference.. Its about representing your country! IN ANY SPORT!
Wilshere then replied: I agree thats exactly what i was saying…
FA chairman Greg Dyke also distanced himself from Wilsheres assertion. The idea that someone who is not born in this country can never play here (for England) I think is not real,but how long should they be here? Dyke said on the sidelines of the Leaders in Football conference in London.
I dont think being born here (is necessary). We wouldnt have had Mo Farah on that basis, Dyke said. So I think that (Wilsheres view) is too extreme. … There have been English players before who were not born in England who have played for the national side and it happens in many other sports. The question is,how far do you push it?
Dykes predecessor,David Bernstein,said the issue is becoming more blurred. We live in a changing world where there is much more fluidity in terms of population movements, Bernstein,who left the FA in July,told the BBC. Id say we must play within the rules obviously,but if within the rules there are players who are eligible to play for England I would be inclined to pick the best players we can get. Other countries do that and we want to be on a level playing field doing that.
The question was should foreign players be allowed to play for England,and in my opinion I don’t think they should!
@JackWilshere Interested to know how you define foreigner…? Would that include me,Strauss,Trott,Prior,Justin Rose,Froome,Mo Farah?
@KP24 With all due respect Mr Pietersen the question was about Football! Cricket,cycling,Athletics is not my field!
@JackWilshere Same difference… It’s about representing your country! IN ANY SPORT!
@KP24 I agree thats exactly what i was saying…
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