Category: Identity politics


Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual: hooliganism gave me a way to fit in

He dressed smart, carried a knife and wound up in jail. As his life story hits the stage, Riaz Khan reveals how, in 1980s Britain, soccer violence was very multiculturalIt wasn’t so much the violence that attracted Riaz Khan to football hooliganism as …


Editorial: England rugby selectors pick South African: From the archive, 6 December 1933

Clarity is needed on foreign-born players representing England

The selection of Mr. H. G. Owen-Smith, of South Africa and Oxford, to play in an English Rugby trial match has revived an ancient controversy. One London newspaper will have none of him because he is South African born, of South African parents, and has played for South Africa at cricket. Another is all for the hospitable gesture, and would welcome to English teams any player from a Dominion who is living temporarily in the land of his fathers rather than deny him the chance of international football during his prime.

There is something to be said for both points of view. Scotland, who has always allowed herself in this respect a licence surprising in one so strict on other points, gave several international caps to an Egyptian who happened to be studying medicine at Edinburgh University; this is carrying hospitality to the verge of importunity.

On the other hand, S. M. J. Woods, who played cricket for Australia on a birth qualification, learned his football at Brighton and spent all his playing life in England; to deny him the chance of playing football for England would have been to inflict on him a considerable hardship.

Some single international rule is certainly needed. At present the football nations have only a “gentlemen’s agreement” that, in doubtful cases, the nation which first offers a trial to a player has thereby established first claim to him. This covers, though unsatisfactorily, the many cases of players with a double British qualification, such as Welsh birth and English residence; but it does not solve the problem of Dominion players.

These fall under two main headings – the men who come to an English university or hospital and then return to their own country, and those who come for the same purpose but afterwards settle in England. It seems equitable that the second class should play in British international football, but that the first should not.

If a minimum of six years’ unbroken residence were imposed as the only alternative to a birth qualification, the temporary visitors would be in most cases excluded, and the permanent settlers would qualify to play for their adopted country before their powers had begun to decline. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds