Friday, February 1, 2008

First, but not really

When I saw Mexico's roster for the U.S. match, the first thing that caught my eye was the inclusion of Antonio Naelson "Zinha" who drew criticism from Hugo Sanchez when Zinha was called in by Ricardo Lavolpe.

Zinha, of course, is Brazilian by birth and Mexican by naturalization.

Now, while I think it's hypocritical of Sanchez to have criticized such a move several years ago and now count on him with the team, I can't say I'm surprised. One of the first things Sanchez said when he was hired was that he would not close the door on any Mexican player, including foreigners. So again, this isn't really a surprise.

Of course, this is being spun around the world as Sanchez's first call-up of a naturalized player. Which, of course, is not.

United States-born Edgar Castillo has a couple of caps for Mexico. What makes Zinha more of a foreigner than Castillo is beyond me. I mean...

Zinha + not born in Mexico = foreigner
Castillo + not born in Mexico = foreigner

Maybe the international wire services forgot about Castillo. Even some of the Mexican press said this move was a way of paving the door open for naturalized players, such as the return of Guillermo Franco (which I would never have thought possible) or even Leandro Augusto, the Brazilian-born Pumas standout.

I didn't really want to get into a rant about foreigners but here goes. I don't see what the big deal is about using foreign born players in any national team, whether it's Mexico or France or Germany. Zinha is a quality soccer player and will help Mexico. He's lived in Mexico for years and honed his skills in his trade in that country. Why not pay his new country back in some way?

Anyway, I'll cut my rant short. I just wanted to point out that Edgar Castillo was the first naturalized player Hugo Sanchez called upon and wound up talking about El Guille. Sorry.


man-from-michigan said...

I have a quick question regarding Castillo:

Is it possible that he had dual citizenship and therefore not a naturalized player?



David Keyes said...

I've got to think it's related to ethnicity: Castillo has ethnically Mexican parents while Zinha does not. It reminds me of the Japanese government's policy in the 1990s to bring in ethnic Japanese workers from Brazil to fill needs in industry there. Japan in general does not like to bring in immigrants, but these Japanese-Brazilians were seen as different (despite the fact that many were actually the 3rd or 4th generation of their families in Brazil). It seems similar to the Castillo situation in a player of Mexican descent is seen as Mexican despite being born in another country.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you DK. Another example would have been Johnny Bornestein, his mom is from Chihuahua, so if he would have been called up, he would not have been a naturalized player. Right? The name would have thrown people off though. LOL

A.C. said...

If a child has Mexican parents, that person still has to apply for citizenship, though he/she is eligible for it. Herculez Gomez has Mexican parents, and he had to apply for citizenship back when he first went to Mexico to play. If Luis is thinking of anyone who has to appy for citizenship as naturalized, Castillo could count.

L.B. said...

As far as the first question regarding dual citizenship goes, it's not just automatic. You can apply for dual citizenship as I tried to a few years back. I got stonewalled though when I had to produce some stupid document and never got the final paperwork complete. I had my dad's birth certificate, some certified copies of my birth certificates, some other papers from consulate or some crap, dont remember, but they asked for one obscure paper and i was unable to find it. Something that had to do with county registrar's office.

Anyway, Castillo was born in the U.S., and there are plenty of Mexicans who dislike Mexican-Americans. I mean Mexican-Americans don't exactly get welcomed back with open arms by everybody down there.

A.C. said...

I meant, "if a child has Mexican parents, but was born in another country".

The Hammer said...

I think the issue of using foreign-born citizens becomes controversial when the players are becoming citizens only so they can play a World Cup. It seems awfully convenient that Japan was able ton naturalize a player within a couple of years when everybody else has to go through a long and arduous naturalization process there. Same applies to what Greece tried to do with Castillo by offering him a Million Euros to become Greek and play with them. Or perhaps more controversially, in a radio interview Guillermo "El Guille" Franco recently stated that in order to play a World Cup, he would've even naturalized himself for Ghana if he had to.

The scary part about the previous manager, is that he's a man who's lived 25 years in Mexico [or more] and understands full well what it means to become a citizen, and he has refused to do so. On top of that, it's well documented that he went to visit Walter Gaitan to try to convince the Argentine to become a Mexican citizen so he may play the world cup for El Tri. That to me is dishonest.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You guys opened a can of worms here.

LB: Mexican-Americans do get welcomed back to Mexico with open arms as long as they don't act like jackasses, bring US dollars, and make an effort to speak spanish.

Back in the day, I imagine it was a lot worse but now there seems to be an acceptance of Mexican-Americans returning to Mexico. Hence, Castillo, Padilla, Guadarrama, Orozco are doing just fine.

Some states such as Michoacan have 40-50% of native born men living and working in the US. With the internet and accessible flights this has changed things...I digress...

I have no problem with foreign-born players becoming citizens of a nation in order to play, work, live in peace, study, etc... I do have a problem with all the patriotic BS on both sides of the border.


papa bear said...

so...does that mean USMNT fans are allowed to go on and on about Mexico having naturalized players on their roster?
El Tri fans sure seem to have problems with Adu being on the roster all the time. It's ridiculous.
As The Hammer stated, I only have a problem with this kind of thing when the player who has no ties to the country gets a quickie naturalization job just to play. (like Almunia is trying to do for England)
It's not the US' fault that we have a ton of immigration. Some of those folks are bound to think of themselves as Americans after they have lived here for a long time.
BBSC: you are wrong. I have a friend who was born in Mexico before moving to the US, who visited Monterrey every summer for the first 17 years of his life who is still s**t on every time he goes back because he's a 'traitor'
Never mind the fact that he speaks only Spanish when he was back there and never took an attitude. I can't figure out why he stopped going once his parents stopped making him go. Hmmm....
Let's face it, 'undocumented' immigrants who move to the US give Mexican-Americans s**t for being Americans Christ's sake. It's not like it's a new phenomenon.
Spend some time in Los Angeles and you'll see what I mean.

Jon E said...

I'm not Mexican, so I'm not going to make authoritative pronoucements about this, but as an outsider it seems to me that some aspects of Mexican society are significantly more racist than most Americans notice and than most Mexicans want to talk about.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think Mexico is more racist than the US. For one thing, the US's past and present makes that sort of claim silly, and for another I've always found Mexicans to be pretty open with me when I've gone there despite the fact that I'm pretty obviously not Mexican.

But I do think Mexico is more overtly racist about certain things, and I think this is one of them. For instance, I've never been able to wrap my head around the idea that Chivas de G. essentially has an official policy that only native-born Mexicans can play for the team. (Every time I think about that, I hope I've just misunderstood. Have I?)

And Chivas USA even tried to do the same thing. (I think it's embarrassing that MLS let them do so.) People would've been irate--and rightly so--if the Galaxy had decided to field a team consisting only of players from, I dunno, German stock.

Unless the naturalization process is screamingly fishy (as in, some guy got his citizenship in three months), why should it be an issue where somebody was born if they want to become a citizen and play for the team? And yet in Mexico, it seems to. Or have I got it wrong?