ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

10 May

Watishista conflictedinspain posted this over on Twitter and I’m just as gobsmacked as she is. What the ever lovin’ fuck?! Does anyone have/know where the original article is? I’d like to see what this writer’s thesis is. Perhaps it’s meant in a “complimentary” way and they were going for a sensationalist, controversial headline to spur interest but it still makes me extremely uncomfortable. It’s not the first time that this charge has been leveled against the team (which was the most ethnically diverse in the 2010 World Cup) but people, can’t you find a fucking different angle? Of the 4 men pictured, three were born in Germany. Podolski was born in Poland but moved to Germany at the age of two. His parents were given Aussiedler  status (it’s right of return since his paternal grandparents were German citizens pre-WWII). I know the situation and feelings around immigration/integration are complex. Since it’s not my country, I realize that there are nuances that I will never understand. However, I’m genuinely interested to hear (especially from German watishistas) what y’all think of this headline. I find it insulting on several levels. But again, just my opinion. Your thoughts?

- Lozil

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40 Responses to “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

  1. em May 11, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    It’s an interesting situation when nationalism clouds our perspective. It makes it hard to see that a person of different extraction can actually be a citizen of your country, or see things the same way you do, have similar experiences, etc… The French national team has actually been going through the same thing recently. There is now a significant proportion of people of African extraction living in France, so the national team has recently reflected this dynamic and it has caused a bit of angst among some of the more genetically ‘French’.
    Look at the US MNT. Gomez, Agudelo, Onyewuh, Altidore, DeLaGarza.
    C’mon people, it’s a global world. If you’re in a rich country, it will be diversely populated. So, we better get used to it.
    It’s like here in the south with all of the racism. Hey, guess what, kid with the Confederate sticker on your truck… black people aren’t going away. Get your head out of your ignorant arse and learn to live with it. Hey France, Algerians aren’t going away, so if you want to play on the MNT, start practicing. Hey, Germany, some of those Turkish guys could help you win a title soon, but only if you treat them fairly and with dignity.

  2. Melissa (@BombayTalkies) May 11, 2012 at 1:55 am #

    That’s from the June 2012 edition (upcoming) of FourFourTwo.

    http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/fourfourtwoview/archive/2012/05/02/in-the-new-issue-england-germany-holland-spain-amp-the-metropolitan-police.aspx

    Having read their coverage of Germany for the last few years I’m inclined to believe (without yet being able to read the article) that it’s meant to be complimentary, not racist.

    • Melissa (@BombayTalkies) May 11, 2012 at 1:58 am #

      Complimentary as in a melding of football talents and styles, etc. FourFourTwo doesn’t subscribe to the Fabio Capello school of “Germany cheats b/c they import players” thought.

    • Melissa (@BombayTalkies) May 11, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      Sorry, meant to include this as part of my comment. This is the description of the article in question, from FourFourTwo’s website above:

      “Next stop, Germany. FFT investigates how a foreign invasion made the Germans a modern power in world football. They could win the Euros this summer, thanks to a little help from a Brazilian player, a Pole, a Nigerian …you get the picture. And just to make it even clearer, we speak to Polish-born Lukas Podolski about his dream of winning the European Championship in his home country.”

  3. amouria May 11, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    The role of the media is to promote superficial/ commonsensical ideas. But critical thinkers should keep an eye on these publications, regardless of their intentions (whether meant to be complimentary or not).
    In Europe, you need to prove your pure blood by going 5-10 generations back. So sad…and stupid. Hitler, I must say, is still alive…in the hearts and minds of the majority! and that is why these newspapers keep selling!

  4. Izan May 11, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Nothing wrong with them..and everyone else…under FIFA rules. you can google to understand it more..or see this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_eligibility_rules

  5. panama May 11, 2012 at 4:50 am #

    Lozil, I agree with you – I find the article pretty offensive, too. Even if it’s meant in a complementary fashion because, seriously?! These guys are German (even Mesut’s parents were born in Germany)! Integration has been a long and difficult process and were not even close to the end… But people celebrate their multi-ethnic NT and recognize these players as German, as they should. This makes me very happy and I feel a little offended and hurt by the author’s seemingly careless words.
    At the same time, it seems that the author wants to imply that a team with players who are “just” German and without multi-ethnic roots simply can’t be good or succesful in football. That’s what I call offensive, too. If that’s the case, why did they print a picture of Per…?
    I sometimes get the feeling we (as a country and as individual citizens) can do nothing right in the eyes of some people. If we have successful German players, they will be labeled “tanks” and be called by nicknames that stem from 70 years ago. If we have succesful German players with different roots they won’t be accepted as being German. So, what does this leave us to do? My answer would be to stop listening to the ignorants and celebrate our team :)

    Sorry for the long rant! I didn’t wanna offend anybody and am truly sorry if I accidentally did. I’ve just grown tired of everyone and their mother always having an unfounded opinion about my home country – maybe some of the girls from the US can relate a little ;)

    • sweethearthalo May 11, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      The support the boys get here is amazing! And who seriously care from which country they are?!

  6. sweethearthalo May 11, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    I already had an essay about it, but technology never fails to fail :D
    As a foreigner in Germany I’m more German than some Germans who live here, but still, after almost 16 years, some people seem to be sceptical and sometimes it’s ridiculous how huge the prejudices against Russians are. but that’s only the minority!
    It’s not only by chance that people from all over the world come over to Germany to get a job etc. etc. and that our schools learn basically all languages and so on. Despite all this, sometimes Germany is a bit, well, conservative. I don’t know if you guys have heard about Thilo Sarrazin and his book, but as the result of it Germany – and Frau Merkel – had to accept that the integration mostly failed. Look at Berlin, the ghettos there, these people are separated from the rest of the nation and if you see people from there you think it’s better that way, but as the discussions about some social programms in Germany never stop, this topic is always actual.
    So what I actually wanted to say – if the boys from the German NT made it so far, they should be an example for everyone, no? And seriously, nobody here cares from which country the single players originally are, but it’s always shown how proud they’re that they’ve basically a 2nd nationality. Why not? In the end they decided to play for Germany, to fight for its win, for its success. German nation accepts that without words, they’re proud of their boys, there’re barely countries who are THAT much behind their team.

    They’ve success. They made something of their lives, they became more than just the foreign boys. Success has haters, that’s how it is how it will be. It’s not like they’re in the German NT only by chance.
    If someone of the Germans don’t agree, feel free to correct me :p

  7. jellyace May 11, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    The Philippine Azkals is one such team made up of locally born and bred players plus a pretty sizable infusion of foreign nationals of Filipino parentage (at least one parent). The Phil-foreigners have raised the quality of the team due to their early exposure to the sport and experience playing in leagues throughout Europe and America. They may look different, they may speak different, but they are still Filipino. And to say that they are less Filipino (as one reporter claimed and was condemned for doing so) is just as ignorant as saying they are less British or Spanish. And that would put them neither here nor there.

    These days, there is hardly any truly homogeneous society and the Philippines, which evolved under the rule of several colonizers and waves of migration (Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, Spain, US, Dutch, Japan), has never been a homogeneous society. We should celebrate cultural diversity and the contributions of other cultures into our society, not condemn it like neo-Nazis.

    OK rant done.

  8. KatiePar May 11, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    I hope it’s complimentary but it still irks me. I’m also a foreigner in Germany, but was born there and grew up there. Of course I live, feel and behave like other Germans. Nobody even questions that, because you just can’t see or hear that I’m not officially German. To question that these boys are German is stupid. I hope the world will fall in love with the German team again. At least in sports integration seems to work rather well. That’s wonderful and the best example.

  9. mel May 11, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    I think the German form of humor is different than the American. I laugh at this, like ‘spot on’ becauise it is a curious observation.

    I don’t know what the article is based on, but I assume, when looking back at the history of the German NT and its achievements, the current team, with not so German backgrounds, is in fact better that teams with ‘true’ Germans.

    As they all must have a German citisenship to play for Germany, we must assume, that they are in fact German……

    I don’t see this as racism at all, I see it as a pun on the reality. I think europeans will be less offended by this, than say Americans, because we are more casual about this, as we don’t have the same history of opressing coloured people.

    Also, Germany must be proud, that the players represent the country, as some of them must have double citisenships and has chosen to play for Germany or to solely have a German citisenship.

    • Melissa (@BombayTalkies) May 11, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      That’s what I took away from what little I could make out of the text in the photo. The article was written by German who seems to be saying that the boys aren’t German in the sense that this isn’t traditional German football–there are influences of playing styles on this team that come from all over the world, the result of which has served the national team well.

      I think people are reacting to the headline without considering the context of the publication it’s in or the tone it’s taking. Knee-jerk outrage is probably best saved until you can read the actual article and see which angle the author has taken.

      As for “can’t you find a different angle?” I think this is an important angle and I’m glad to see it come up as often as it does. I lived in Germany for quite a while (and plan to return one day) and as much as those of us “in the know” may be sick of the “omg did you know some of these players have dual nationalities?” line, there really *are* people who need to be beat over the head with it. The immigration system in Germany has changed drastically in recent years and this team is the result. I think it’s pretty interesting and I’m definitely not sick of hearing about it.

      • mel May 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

        I completely agree with you. I think looking back at Germany’s national history, it’s a good thing, that the immigration system has changed for the better. Germany is a great country and everyone should be able to make a living there, if they want to.

        I also think people are too fast at pulling the racism/nacism card, given Germany’s national history. I refuse to believe that nacism is as big a problem in Germany today, as it was in the 1940’s. Which is why the German NT can consist of players with not German backgrounds!!

        And a side note on the French team that won in 1998 – great achievement, but that team has also suffered a lot of criticism during times of bad performances. All of a sudden, it was the black players’ fault, that the team didn’t win…..

        • headbandsandheartbreak May 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

          I refuse to believe that nacism is as big a problem in Germany today, as it was in the 1940′s.

          Obviously not. God forbid. No one said it was. But Neo-Nazis doexist and are a problem. You might want to read this article from the BBC.

          However, that’s not what I was getting at. But using the words “not German” creates the notion of immigrants or German born children of immigrants as “the Other” which is something far righters love to latch on to. And then that brings up many “who/what is German?” questions and the idea of ownership. “My” country not “your’s” as it were. Germany has been struggling with integration so continuing to perpetuate the stereotype of “not German” isn’t really helping things along.

          As I said before, it could have been worded much better. It’s obviously touched a nerve with many people.

          • Jenny May 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

            Interesting fact: an extreme right-wing political party sent a directive to its members during the 2010 world cup to stop criticizing players for not being “real Germans” or not singing the anthem.

            Reason: the team was too popular and it was turning people off!

            Proof positive: football = love!

  10. conflictedinspain May 11, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Thanks for posting Lozil! It’s been very interesting reading everyone’s comments and becoming more educated on the topic. I am BY FAR the last person to understand the politics behind this article. But having followed Mesut’s influence on the team for a little while now, I am familiar with the basics on the issue. So when I first saw this last night I simply had a reaction to the wording (actually broke out in a sweat!). Even if it’s meant to be positive, the words “not German” seriously bothered me. Considering, like you said, three of them were born and all were raised in Germany, how is that considered NOT German? My children are 1/2 Venezuelan, were born here in the US… but does their Venezuelan heritage make them “not” or “less” American? This was just where my thoughts went initially… Also, it made me wonder if German Germans (whatever that means) would find it offensive that it’s implied they’re no good without foreign talent? I don’t know… It gets so complicated. All I know for sure is… they’re going to win the Euro. :)

  11. Guest May 11, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I’m from Austria and I don’t it’s offensive at all. Actually it makes me sad, that the first reaction to this headline is to think it has something to do with racism.

    It’s a pact part of the Germany national team has parents or grandparents who have not been born in Germany, but nationality has nothing to do with where you were born. Nuri Sahin was also born in Germany, but feels probably more connected with Turkey, so that’s the country he plays for. Khedira has a Tunesian descent, Özil a Turkish one, Gomez is half Spanish, Podolski was born in Poland, continue the list if you like. Most of the players are really proud of the national ancestry and I really don’t think that Özil considers himself as just German and not Turkish.

    The article says that they’re not German – in fact they aren’t – not entirely. But who is?
    Ever looked at the French team that won the World Cup in 1998? The majority of the team were immigrants and the fact that they won the title had also big political influence to reconsider the attitude towards immigrants.

    The article could be a compliment – you don’t have to be German to play good footbal or about successfull immigration

  12. Manie May 11, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    This is atrocious. My parents left another country to set up a life and family in USA and going by the logic of this article, I would not be considered american. Which is news to me.

    • Melissa (@BombayTalkies) May 11, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      “By the logic of this article…”

      Does that mean you’ve read it? I’ve been trying to get my hands on it all morning. Or are you just going by the headline?

      (I very much doubt that the article seriously claims that the players are not Germans. FFT is a bit more intelligent than that.)

  13. headbandsandheartbreak May 11, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Thanks for tracking down the source, Melissa. Much appreciated. I’m looking forward to reading it and seeing what the author has to say. The description helps to put it more into context. However, I still am really uncomfortable with the headline – particularly the words “not German” – we’re talking a very hot button topic here and the implications of those words are loaded. I just remember the run up to the 2010 WC where far right people were bitching that they wouldn’t support the German team because they “weren’t German” and all the push-pull that went on when Mesut was deciding who to play for on the national level. The writer could have worded it differently to make it less political (IMHO). There are ways of saying that multiculturalism in Germany has added new flavor to the game without using those specific words (which can be taken in a negative light). That’s what I took offense to. And I guess it’s not just me being American ;-) as some of our German watishistas felt uncomfortable with the wording too. So it’s a sensationalist headline for an article (which we can now assume based on the description) celebrates the diversity of the team. I just think they could have done better. Much better.

    Thanks for all the comments – it’s really interesting to hear all the different perspectives.

  14. Jenny May 11, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I think the article is probably written on the same theme as this one (and the picture they chose is the picture they chose because Ozil is the most famous of their players and he happens to stand at the very end of the line when they sing the anthem):

    http://theclassical.org/articles/the-new-germans

    Which I really, really loved – and which I thought was rather beautiful because the German team are the least “German” in old footballing stereotypes that you can imagine. Whether the stereotype is fair (I think Netzer, Overath and Beckenbauer were very artistic, actually) it’s been stuck on the team until now: mechanical, no plan B, defensive etc…

    It’s written by a German too, which makes me assume it is highly complimentary and focuses on their counter-attack, for example, speed, versatility, fluidity in position etc…

  15. Jenny May 11, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Okay – I take it back, a little.

    I’ve just found the preview of the mag, and while I realize that abstracts written by people who are not the writers can be misleading, here’s a quote:

    “Next stop, Germany. FFT investigates how a foreign invasion made the Germans a modern power in world football. They could win the Euros this summer, thanks to a little help from a Brazilian player, a Pole, a Nigerian …you get the picture. And just to make it even clearer, we speak to Polish-born Lukas Podolski about his dream of winning the European Championship in his home country.”

    This is shiver down the spine stuff – as in “they could have got away with this maybe, in the late ’80s”

    Hopefully the article is better than the review. And, I don’t know if I’ve recommended it yet ;) – but this article was gorgeous:

    http://theclassical.org/articles/the-new-germans

    Incidentally – the German of Nigerian descent isn’t coming. Loew decided to leave him and his luscious eye-lashes at home – and I’m relieved beyond words because cute as Aogo is, Loew’s insistence on sticking him on the left – let’s just say it was giving me nightmares. Only way to ensure it wouldn’t happen is by leaving luscious-lashes at home. I can just imagine us being a man down and Loew going into panic mode: “hmmm…I should stick Denis on the left again…”

    GAAAAAH!

    Why am I telling y’all this? Because it’s a long way of saying that if he hasn’t been a drool he needs to be! Boy is young, quasi-virginal and hot. Just my type. Ears are cute too!

  16. gillian rosheuvel (@mezz98) May 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    The use of the term “foreign invasion” in the article description on the website really angers me. That term is beyond loaded. The whole premise of the article is just gross!

    • Liza May 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      That was exactly what I thought, I was willing to give the title a pass because I havent read it but the blurb had the phrase “foreign invasion” that it insensitive to say the least.

      Which kind of make me think if that is what other Germans think of me since I wasnt even born in Germany? oh well there will always be those people I guess, I just wish they would not be printed

      • Kel May 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

        To be fair, foreign invasion is often used in the UK press without any racist or nationalistic attachments. It’s always used simply to describe and influx of foreigners and isusually used in positive terms to describe, for example, the “foreign invasion” of players to the premier league but always used in terms of making things seem more exciting and diverse.

        • dreamsequence May 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

          To me, the use of the word “invasion” creates a negative subtext even if the articles make the intent seem innocuous. The definition itself (the incoming or spread of something usually hurtful) makes it hard to turn it into a positive sentiment.

          • Kel May 12, 2012 at 4:20 am #

            That’s understandable but it is used in this context positively and has been many times for many years when discussing football in the UK media so in context, since this is a UK magazine for UK readers, I think it’s unfair to attribute other meanings to it.

            • headbandsandheartbreak May 12, 2012 at 11:01 am #

              It may be a magazine created in the UK, but it has an international readership (I know plenty of folks who subscribe to it all over the world), so it’s not just for UK readers (many of who may be foreign born themselves). Also, with the advent of the internet, is there ever really for an audience that is that specific? (which reminds me of The League of Gentlemen and “This is a local shop for local people!”) It’s all global. The reader will attribute meaning to the words based on their own experiences, culture, etc. That’s up to them and if they feel uncomfortable with it, that’s perfectly valid, IMHO.

              • jellyace May 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

                Semantically speaking, “invasion” means an encroachment or occupation. “Infusion” may be a better word because it means that something is introduced and allowed to blend.

  17. KatiePar May 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Reading the comments was so interesting. You are all so well-spoken and observant. It really highlights again, why this is such a great community. About the article, the “foreign invasion” phrasing is not doing the article any favours. I sincerely hope that Germans don’t see me as invading their country. But since nobody around me has hinted at that in the last 30 years, I believe I’m on safe for now. ;)

  18. dreamsequence May 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    When I was researching Citizenship and Diversity Education in grad school, I read plenty of journal articles regarding national identity. In Germany, the basic idea seemed to be this: Especially with the Turkish community, there was a feeling that this group was “foreign” and “other” based on, among other things, religion and language. This was the case, regardless of how many generations had been in country (obviously, I am generalizing and do not mean that EVERYONE feels this way). There were complaints about the lack of integration into “German” society and culture, but those did not address the fact that the ethnic enclaves usually formed for some sort of protection for minority groups from a hostile environment. The enclaves, etc. are one of the reasons that the headlines about the failures of multikulti were everywhere a couple years back. Is this phenomenon confined to Germany? Not at all. France has issues with immigrant communities beng accepted socially as “full citizens”, even generations in country. The United States is a prime example of this too, as is painfully obvious with bouts of xenophobia inspiring laws which ease standards of probable cause to check immigration records of potential “illegals” (read: anyone with brown skin…also, I find the term “illegal” to be a horribly offensive way to reference a person, and I use it simply to make a point). In these countries, you also see ethnic enclaves. There is always the argument that if people don’t “integrate” (that word is vague, and I see it more as an expectation of assimilation) into the dominant ideal of a national identity that they are not truly American, German, etc. Regardless of the intent of the article, suggesting that they aren’t German in the headline is a flippant and cheap way to court controversy. Sure, it may inspire a person to read on, but it just kind of leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially for those who persistently have to justify their inclusion into the national fold.

    • dreamsequence May 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      Yikes…I didn’t realize how much I had written. Sorry. For a tl;dr, just hit the last two sentences ;)

    • Jenny May 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      I agree with all of this.

      Most of all with integration problems. I wrote up Mesut and his role as a political figure in some of my first ever posts – inspired by his political role, his role as a public-figure in the integration debate, the fuss over his playing Turkey by German-Turks in Berlin (who were so wonderfully resentful – though many of the fans, like him, had been born in Germany).

      Mesut’s mother, for example, barely speaks German. For an interview her eldest daughter Nese had to translate. That speaks to a life-time in an ethnic enclave – and I found it rather sad, for her, and for us. That her daughters are utterly modern was nice though.

      I’m not sure Turks feeling overt hostility was the main reason, they were certainly needed and wanted (even as a child, I remember how they were still coming in the early ’80s for mines and factories) but they certainly weren’t wanted for the LONG TERM. It was always expected, by both groups, that they’d work, save money, go home.

      Well it didn’t work. They married Germans. They lived in Germany for 40+ years. They had children in Germany (who did not get automatic citizenship either, until 1999) – and West Germany had other things on its mind. The cold war. Unification. This was a “problem” that wasn’t dealt with properly until 13 years ago.

    • headbandsandheartbreak May 12, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      @dreamsequence ::slow clap:: This was beautifully put and what I was trying to say without your eloquence. I am only a second generation American and remember the stories from my grandfather as he struggled to make his place here. He faced a great deal of discrimination and was always meant to feel like the “other.” As a result, he discouraged his children from being outwardly “foreign” and urged them to assimilate so that they wouldn’t experience the same issues that he had. He wanted no doubt as to their “American-ness” As a result, we ended up losing out on some of the richness that being raised with dual cultures can bring.This really stuck with me. Thank you for explaining what made me feel so uncomfortable and saying it so damn well. xo

      • dreamsequence May 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

        Aw, thanks. It’s a subject that I am quite passionate about. I am sorry about your family’s experience, because it saddens me that the fear of being “other” does, over time, end up stripping a people of their culture. This is manifest in a variety of ways, such inhibiting the use of native languages. Do you find that your grandparents’ generation is more likely to hide native culture, while the younger generation seeks it out? I have noticed this to be the case in many instances (for example, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians which is ironic because these particular groups felt foreign in their own lands).

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