National teams, multiple loyalties. A discussion of three football case studies

2019-11-08T09:38:35Z (GMT) by Albrecht Sonntag Borja Garcia-Garcia
In several Western European countries, multi-ethnic societies are also reflected in national football teams that field players of migrant origin. This article presents an empirical analysis of how football players with dual identities have negotiated their allegiances to their ‘home’ and ‘adoptive’ footballing countries. Research is conducted through inductive analysis of empirical data based on three case studies from Germany, Switzerland and France, dating from 2018. These cases highlight the different manners in which such football players are confronted with their dual identities when opting for the National Team of their «country of adoption». Our findings reveal that, while the national identity of professional players seems to be largely irrelevant in the globalised Football Clubs and Leagues of Western Europe, players with migrant background face serious difficulties when expressing, spontaneously or intentionally, their dual allegiance. The main theoretical contribution of the article is the conceptualisation of a process in which large parts of public opinion and media discourse, even in countries with a long-standing history of migration, have trouble to come to terms with dual loyalties. In those cases, football players face a demand to explicitly make public their allegiance when bearing the nation’s «colours» on the football pitch.