Germany’s World Cup win brought by diversity of players

多様性が生んだ勝利 ドイツのW杯優勝と移民の関係

Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the 20th FIFA World Cup final in Brazil last July, wresting the trophy for the fourth time since the 1990 meet in Italy. One may say that the new immigrant policy opted by the German government contributed a great deal to the feat.



Germany had stuck fast to the principle of pure blood before the 1998 World Cup in France. Its national team had few descendants of foreign citizenship among its members. However, it began to have more of such players in later World Cup meets.


In the latest World Cup, 26% or six of its 23 players who stood on the pitch of the final match were immigrants or descendants of immigrants. They included Mesut Özil (the third generation of a Turkish immigrant), Jerome Boateng (of Ghanaian origin) and Mirosław Kloze (who migrated from Poland at the age of seven years). It is no exaggeration to say that Germany cannot form a strong squad without them these days.

今回のブラジル大会では、決勝のピッチに立ったメスト・エジル(トルコ系移民の第3世代)、ジェローム・ボアテング(ガーナ系)、ミロスラフ・クローゼ(7歳の時ポーランドから移住)らを含め、メンバー23人中6人、実に26%を移民系選手が占めている。もはや、彼らなしにはドイツ代表は成り立たなくなっていると言っても過言ではない。What has brought about this situation? It was the German government’s change of its immigration policy, which was arguably prompted by the fact that most of the workers who had come mainly from Italy and Turkey to find jobs in West Germany did not return home after the country’s unification.



In 1999, the government introduced jus soli (right of soil by which the nationality of a child is determined by the place of his or her birth) into the country’s nationality law that had previously been based on jus sanguine (right of blood by which a child’s nationality at birth is the same as that of his or her natural parents).



As time went by, this policy shift resulted in increasing the number of German soccer players often referred to as "M generation" with immigration backgrounds. M stands for German words “Mehrfache Kulturen” meaning multiple cultures.

そこから、移民背景を持つ「M世代」と呼ばれるサッカー選手が増加するようになったのである。Mとはドイツ語のMehrfache Kulturenに由来し、多文化を意味する。


The German national team has steadily added to its strength and dexterity by accepting such players and making use of their diversity. For example, Mesut Özil has played a core role in turning the German soccer style highly dependent on physical robustness into a more functional one based on a mix of short and long passes by making use of his broad vision and high skills.



The presence of players of immigrant descent may give purely German teammates more chances to get in touch with foreign soccer culture in their childhood and improve their ability to adjust themselves to foreign soccer styles. Actually, the German team that competed in Brazil had more players who belonged to football clubs outside Germany than the one that took part in FIFA World Cup 1998 in France.



Turning eyes to Japan, soccer players with diversified cultural backgrounds are also increasing in number. Among them are Musashi Suzuki (born in Jamaica), who scored five goals in the Asian Games held in Incheon in September, and Mike Havenaar (born to Dutch parents). Let us hope that more of such players will join the Japan national team to add to its ethnic diversity in the future.




Written by: Takaaki Araki