18 June 2010

World Cup frenzy

It's that time again. Cars drive past our house flying the various banners of the contenders for the coveted World Cup, as they did four years ago. Dayo Olopade reflects on some of the historical ironies in the individual matches and in the ethnic composition of the teams themselves: At the World Cup, the Empire Strikes Back.
Today's French team is populated with players of Arab and African origin; star forward Franck Ribery is a Muslim convert reborn as Bilal Yusuf Mohammed. The German squad features Turkish starters, the Dutch squad finally has a black striker. Argentine Lionel Messi has lived in Spain for most of his life; Brazil's Kaka and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo play together—for Spain's Real Madrid. Nine of the U.S. players live and play in Britain—and seven more are first-generation Americans. Italy—perhaps by virtue of its lousy colonial record—is the least diverse of these squads. But even stiff-lipped England has embraced the new norm: An English commercial for football company Umbro features the polyethnic masses in contemporary Britain—an elderly man in dreadlocks, a young South Asian woman—clad in St. George's red, singing, lustily, "God Save the Queen."

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