The following is on the topic of players with dual nationalities.
Specifically, dual-nationals as it relates to the US Mens National Team.
Even more specific, dual-nationals as it relates to Mexican-Americans first, and Latino-Americans generally.
It’s become a hot topic in American soccer the past handful of years, and even if you’re not that interested in the pro game here or the national team, it can nonetheless be affecting whatever you are interested in.
The reason is that what you’ll hear next starts providing some insight into the culture which pervades the ecosystem in our country.
A culture which historically was heavily authoritarian, and now is working to – at least from a public relations perspective – is trying not to be perceived as authoritarian.
Now, for a bit of context.
This episode was recorded on March 1, 2021, so well before Efrain Alvarez – a player, as many of you know, was coached by Brian Kleiban from U9 through U19, before being graduated to being a professional.
I bring up Efra because a couple weeks ago – as a newly-minted 19 year old – he became cap-tied to Mexico when he played in the Gold Cup for the Senior Mexican National Team.
This, despite having been born and raised in the United States, and having participated with the US youth national teams early on.
Of course, beyond Efra, there are a number of dual-nationals in the professional ranks, with legitimate possibilities of being integral pieces of a Senior National Team.
For me, the answer to the question of how to pursue dual nationals should be quite straight forward.
We should pursue them for the right reasons, legitimate sporting reasons, and not for reasons of public perception and evading accountability in case a player chooses to represent another country.
Meaning, it should be done with dignity, respect, and above all, in good faith with sincerity.
Values all too often lost on those privileged to sit in decision-making chairs – and not merely at the Federation level.
With that, the following discussion should provide some food for thought on the matter.
No doubt this is a sensitive subject in general, and yes, it hits quite close to home with me being the son of Argentine immigrants, and having intimately worked with the Mexican-American and generally the Latino-American communities within this sport.
I’d be remiss not to mention this authoritarian posture has also been levied – and continues to be levied – on people beyond players. It’s exerted on coaches who express a different culture, it’s exerted on clubs who might want to operate with values that don’t perfectly align, it’s exerted on media, it’s generally exerted on anyone and everyone who doesn’t completely fall in line with the one singular culture that controls the ecosystem.
I invite you to dig a bit into what happened to Hugo Perez – the current coach of El Salvador who just played a remarkable game against Mexico. Although you won’t find the whole truth, and I certainly won’t share it as I’m held in confidence, you will begin to catch hints of what’s going on. But Hugo’s case is but one of a countless cases, happening everyday, across our country, by a system architected to do so.
Perhaps, one day, this authoritarian posture will be assuaged a touch, as it is now for players. Even if it just an insincere gesture done for public perception. But first, the public must become aware en masse that this is happening, just as it came into their consciousness regarding players a few years ago.
But I’ll leave it there, as this episode solely focusses on the player-specific side.
As always, I invite you to comment below or send me an email, if you’d like to discuss further.