A University of Worcester academic has published a book exploring nationality and national identity in football.
Dr David Storey’s book, Football, Place and National Identity: Transferring Allegiance, focusses on players who decide to represent a different country to the one where they were born, in international football.
The book explores players’ reasons for switching their sporting allegiance from their country of birth to country of residency or family origins, as well as reactions from supporters and also the differing interpretations surrounding decisions over eligibility.
Dr Storey, Principal Lecturer in Geography, is a human geographer who specialises in ideas of territory and national identity. This is his first book linking this into sport.
Researching the book, Dr Storey analysed statements and interviews with players from a wide variety of countries who have transferred allegiances and drew on reaction on fan forums.
The rules around who qualifies to represent their country were tightened in the 1960s. But Dr Storey said these rules had been relaxed in the last four decades and recent years had seen a marked increase in the practice of players switching allegiances.
“It is becoming an increasingly prevalent phenomenon,” said Dr Storey. “It means that a number of countries can draw on a far more extensive diaspora. It suits countries that have a sizeable emigrant population living outside the country, like Ireland or Algeria or Morocco, to tap into the players that have a connection with the country. You could argue it’s given a broader and inclusive sense of who can be part of the nation.”
He added: “One of the issues with this is it makes people choose an identity for the purpose of football, whereas identity may be more complicated. It’s that notion of a multi-layered identity. People have dual or multiple identities, but international sport almost forces you to choose an identity that seems narrower than it is.”
Dr Storey’s book, published by Rowman & Littlefield, can be ordered from the publishers or other book retailers.