Enough with the Naturalization Already

I am so sick of hearing about naturalized players. Not the players themselves mind you, but the constant bombardment of reminders of who is naturalized. It shouldn’t be an issue, but the media types exacerbate it incessantly. Any time call ups are released, the sub header will let us know how many naturalized players are on the list. The starting line up is announced, and reporters will be sure to tell us exactly how many naturalized players will be on the field. A player makes a pass, receives a pass, takes a shot, and rest assured, it goes without saying that we’ll be reminded about the player’s immigration status. Some guys on big soccer had last night’s score only 2-1 because 3 goals were scored by the “new” Mexicans.

I’m a naturalized US citizen, and have been for 20 years, so I guess I just don’t really see why it is such a big deal to call up naturalized players. My feelings have always been, if he is eligible for the call-up, and he is playing well enough, then bienvenidos.

It is an interesting dynamic. A player like Sinha, who has been playing and living in Mexico for years and has a Mexican wife and family is any less Mexican than anyone else. Not according to the government. And that, amigos, is the only opinion that matters. Nevertheless, fans and media get big bug up the tochus when he or Leandro, or Matias Vuoso “take the place of a true Mexican.”

Prior to the 2006 world cup, I was in the Rio Grande Valley, which afforded me the opportunity to watch a qualifier on Mexican TV. After the game, the televise announcers were begging coach Ricardo La Volpe to call up recently minted Mexican Guille Franco to the squad. The minute La Volpe did, those same guys levied a biblical amount of criticism on the skipper for calling him up.

And then, there is Nery Castillo, the Uruguayan unibrow -- Mexican by birth, South American by culture, European by trade. The guy lived barely 2 years in Mexico, but his patriotism is rarely called into question at all. So which is it? Nationality or culture? What makes someone a true Mexican?

I have said it before, if nationals don’t want naturalized players, then play better. If the suits don’t want them, then limit your insatiable appetite for the foreign player. The suits' cries ring hollow anyway.But as it stands now, these guys are here. They’re good. And I, for one, will cheer just as much for them as I will for all the other players.