Is international football heading the same way as the domestic game in England?
It has been hotly debated whether the influx of foreign players into the English Premier League has weakened the English national team. The argument is that if England's top league is full of foreigners, there are not enough places for young English talent to develop at the top level.
This debate has now moved onto the international stage. Many international teams now have players playing for them who were not even born in the country they represent. Some don't even have any family connections whatsoever.
For some time now, nations such as Scotland and the Republic of Ireland have included players who are, for example, English. Maybe not deemed good enough to play for England, but have a Scottish/Irish mother or similar connections.
Times have now progressed and we are seeing players representing nations such as Poland without any national ties other than having lived there for five minutes and had a passport issued. Roger Guerreiro is the prime culprit, but he is not alone. Argentine Mauro Camoranesi is a regular star for the Italians.
Do Italy, the current world champions, really need to recruit from abroad? I feel not.
(Okay, so there may be exceptions to the rule. If someone is born abroad to English parents and is brought up and lives in England, then you'd be pretty hard-pressed to deny his English identity.)
This recent cosmopolitan style to international football may arguably add to the spectacle—but to any proud football fan, this must surely dilute the feeling of national pride: Knowing that your countrymen are not good enough to compete on their own and seek help from abroad.
England have an Italian as head coach, bringing with him a whole team of Italian staff of coaches. I simply cannot accept that as the English national team.
Would France be the force they are without recruiting from all their former African colonies?
Would Croatia have qualified for Euro 2008 without their key striker, Brazilian, Eduardo?
Would England ever qualify for anything ever again with a completely English team and staff?
We won't know until something is done to rectify this growing trend.
If international football does not revert back to doing exactly what it originally set out to do (pitting the best 11 players from one country against the best 11 from another), then what is the point of having a national team?