Euro 2008. Welcome to the new boys in the (nation)hood.

It’s hard when you’re from a small country.

You know, small in self-worth. Like Poland. Or Austria. Or Switzerland.

It’s something of a secret, but the Presidents of many Unselfconfident Football Federations have been regular visitors at the shrink in recent years.

The shrinks thought they were used to seeing people who loathed themselves.

Then they met these football administrators.

We are losing, they said, sniffling into their Federation ties. Our players aren’t good enough. They lose themselves at vital moments. They don’t have skill. They have no balls. Many of them have syphilis. There are strange growths on their private parts.

Oh, you know how you can go overboard when it’s just you and a nice woman with a new box of tissues.

All around the World of Self-Doubt, the shrinks came up with the same solution: if your nation does not have the requisite talent, you must be good capitalists. You must import the talent, use their skills and feed them over time with the beauties of your country.

So it came to pass that today, Austria played Poland to a draw. Helped by the beatific generosity of a bald-headed and bald-faced English referee who gave the hosts a penalty within seconds of the game’s end.

Yes, Poland drew with Austria. And the goals were scored by a Croatian and a Brazilian

The Poles, who managed to slip the Brazilian some citizenship just a couple of months ago, are splendidly used to the phenomenon of utilitarian nationality.

After all, they lost to Germany last weekend, the two German strikers being, well, Poles.

In fact, Lukasz Podolski and Miroslav Klose actually talk to each other in Polish on the field. Little wonder that Polish defense looked as confused as Kim Jong Il when someone told him that Elvis was actually dead.

Yesterday, we had the very entertaining sight of Switzerland playing Turkey. Entertaining because the Swiss side included three Turks. And the last time these two teams played they kicked the living cobwebs off each other. On and off the field.

Of course, not all of these foreigners are mercenaries. Sometimes, their families emigrated when they were children.

But if you’re Roger Guerreiro, you have made a simple calculation: I won’t make the Brazilian team, so I’ll play for some other country. Hey, let’s see what’s going on in Poland.

That way, not only do you get to play international football. But you also get citizenship conferred on you by the President himself.

In one moment, your career changed from rocky to Rocky.

There is one country that has so far resisted in importing players to make its woeful team better. That country is England.

Even though English clubs are now so replete with foreign players that some teams in the Premier League field no Englishmen at all. Take Arsenal, full of the most skillful Frenchmen, Catalans and Latvians.

I have a theory as to why England refuses to import foreigners.

Well, yes, there is the arrogance associated with, yawn, having invented football, yawn, and won the World Cup in 1966, yawn.

There is also the simple fact that the majority of English footballers simple cannot be understood by anyone from a foreign country. Even if that person speaks perfect English, which many of them do.

To understand Wayne Rooney, for example, you need to speak Duck.

So the England players, having failed to qualify, spend the summer getting married and drunk, while Croats scored for Croatia and Austria.

Croatia has a population of four million.

The Pond thanks Howdy, I’m J. Michael Karshis for his version of Camus’ L’Etranger.







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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Euro 2008. Welcome to the new boys in the (nation)hood.

  1. ScandinavianBlonde

    A quick hi again Pondie!

    I’ve been to England etc. so I haven’t had time to check in, but I’m very glad to see that you cover the Euro 2008. 2 hrs to the first quarterfinal, I’m excited.

    There have been some great games. I’m very happy about the Netherlands. Marco van Basten was my first football idol when I played as a little girl and this year’s team has several exciting players.

    The French “foreign legion” actually disproved your theory (or just ponderings..) this year. Frank Ribery was, I thought, their best player and perhaps genuinely French for some generations!?

  2. thespine11

    Hello, Scandie.

    What on earth did you go to England for? Do you have debts to pay to society or something?

    Frank Ribery? He got carried off, didn’t he? And he never manages to do what he’s supposed to.

    That would be to score.

    The first quarter final was rather sad, was it not?

    I trust you will send us a picture of you playing and emulating Van Basten.

  3. ScandinavianBlonde

    England was worth a visit for the gardens this time. But anyway, haven’t you heard, if you’re tired of London you’re tired of life..? That can’t be the case Pondie?

    I loved the first quarter final. I was rooting for Germany and the Portugese made it a very entertaining game up to the end. Well, have to run. Work and later on midsummer festivities, midnight sun etc.

  4. thespine11

    Rooting for Germany? Rooting for Germany?

    What has happened to you, Scandie? Have you been sniffing something more than English flowers?

    No one roots for Germany. There is no reason to root for Germany.

    And you’re working? Doing what exactly?

  5. ScandinavianBlonde

    Germany has always been in my top 5. Germany, Holland and the other Scandinavian countries that make it to these championships.. It’s not Deutschland über alles for me but I don’t mind them.

    Not much sniffing going on, which reminds me, I should go and tie up my ‘Flammentanz’ roses. No German aversion here.

    I heard Turkey vs. Croatia was a thriller, a shame I missed it, but from now on my social engagements are scheduled around the football. Bye again.

  6. What type of football do you yourself play?

    Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    Soccer / Football greats you should write about next!

  7. thespine11

    Oh, I stopped playing years ago.

    And thank you for your kind words, Weapons:Tonfa.

    As for your questions about data and Google: the answer is I have done nothing. Literally nothing.

    I simply write. And hope that people choose to read what I write.

    It is a little on the purist side, I know.

    But that’s what I choose to do.

    Am always happy for readers to suggest topics that might flex the Pond’s mind.

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