World Cup fever has taken over! Even here in the US where the national selection didn’t qualify, it is hard to escape the sight of the games and the excitement of the fans. No small reason for this phenomenon is immigration. The United States, being the home to immigrants from all corners of the world, sees the expressions of joy from the fans cheering for the teams of their country of origin. However, this is not only an American phenomenon. Immigration is a global phenomenon. It is visible on the soccer fields of Russia as the World Cup matches take place.
FIFA (International Federation of Association Football, by its French acronym) publishes many statistics about the teams in the World Cup. Here is what it says, in part, about immigration:
Out of the 1,032 players having participated in the qualifiers for the 31 teams qualified and the 40 Russian players taken into account, 98 were born outside of the association represented (9.1%). The maximum percentage was measured for Morocco (61.5%), while seven countries did not field any player born outside their national borders.
The issue of human mobility, migration, and dual nationalities is such that now FIFA allows players to represent a second country. The numbers, however, do not capture how many players are born in the country they represent but are children of immigrants as first or second generations. That would make for larger percentages. This is but just one example of how people move and take their talents with them.
Immigration, undoubtedly, presents challenges for the migrant, the country of origin, and the receiving country, but time after time, it becomes obvious that the balance is positive.
We live in a global village and the orderly movement of people is something to celebrate. The US system provides many avenues for this via family based immigration, employment visas (including for professional athletes like many football players), and protection for the persecuted and victims. The fires of immigration have forged this big, generous country, and we should preserve this great American experiment.