Tuesday, 11 October 2005

A World Cup of lost loyalties

The Tebbit Test
If there was ever one thing I would have recommended for next summer, it would be attending at least one game of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
In less than 10 years the World Cup visits Europe, first in France in 1998 and now next door in Germany.
A debate occupied the headlines about divided loyalties of British-born citizens of non-British parentage, called the Tebbit Test.
Which was, if Britain or particularly England were playing against the ones indigenous nation who would one be waving the flag for? Well, that is a dilemma of divided loyalties, especially when it applied to cricket with the Caribbean nations as opposed to football with the old colonial nations.
The dregs of history
The complexity of historical purpose where Britain left certain colonies with unresolved conflicts to keep them occupied rather than resolve them so that the countries can get on with nation-building is not lost on the Kashmir and Palestinian situation.
This has fed the continued animosity between India and Pakistan that after a major natural disaster they have been lough to accept help from each other. Soldiers who should be occupied in relief and emergency efforts are caught up in keeping the line of control un-breached.
As I have digressed, the point here is that any competition with England no matter how skilled the opposing team is casts that team as the underdog. It is an English trait to love the underdog and hence we all end up failing the Tebbit Test.
The 2006 however, one would not have to take the Tebbit Test because Nigeria would not be attending the World Cup.
Having once won the Under-17 World Cup in 1985 and the Olympic Gold medal in football against Argentina in 1996, it is a shame that Nigerian football has had such promise compromised by the attitude to national service of wealthy footballers based in Europe who are as a law unto themselves have become unanswerable to order, discipline, control and team participation.
The Nigerian problem
We have had more changes of coaches, both foreign and local than the weather in the hurricane season to no avail. Now, for a country of 130 million citizens, countries like Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Angola are going, three of which have had more recent turmoil and instability. All compared to the relative peace and stability of Nigeria.
One is rather piqued by the fact that the discipline problem which has hounded the Nigerian team for years still looms large.
Playing for one’s country should be a privilege and not a right, many of the European-based footballers are so rich they can afford to waive their fees, but end up being the ones calling on disruptions to the organisation.
Playing as one or as a team
We have always had very good players, getting them to work as a team for the glory of the nation rather than individual showmanship has always been an issue, though they dare not misbehave in the European club circuit. It is saddening.
Having shouted myself hoarse when we played Bulgaria in Paris and beat them 1-0 and the orderly way in which we dispersed from the stadium without much altercation but great camaraderie with everyone.
It is clear that I would rather live down that experience again than make myself an English fan, though word is things have improved.
It is however doubtful that even if I passed the Tebbit Test I would get a ticket to watch England play in Germany.
2010 - South Africa? If I could not get a ticket as a countryman, would I get one as a member of the black race?

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