Pitch Dish

More French Players Playing Against France Than For Them

France may or may not win the World Cup – but they are first place for having the most homegrown players competing for other countries:

At the 2014 World Cup, there were 25 French-born players representing other countries — 16 alone for Algeria. That’s not only enough to field another full team for France, but also five more players than are actually on the French team, Les Bleus, in Brazil.

France’s generosity is largely thanks to a rule change by FIFA, soccer’s governing body. In 2010, FIFA loosened the rules about player nationality. Now, players who have appeared for a country’s youth team, or have only played in exhibition matches, may apply for a one-time switch to another country. “That’s a big difference, says Laurent Dubois, a Duke professor and commentator on world soccer. “The generation before had to make up their minds when they were 15 or something.”

Before the rule change, debates about race and identity in soccer were largely academic — players could either play or not play for their country, or wait to go through an often-lengthy citizenship process in an adopted country. But since 2010, players have been able to switch their allegiances. And nowhere have players done so more readily than in France. This map shows where they have gone:

Credit: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Read More: pri.org

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