13 February 2007

Beckham to captain the Europe XI against Manchester United

The Times reports that the EU is going to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome by staging a football match on 13 March: the Europe XI led by David Beckham is going to take on Manchester United, who are currently sitting at the top of the English Premiership table. The match is to be played at the famous Reds' stadium, the Old Trafford. Marcello Lippi, the coach of the last year's Italian World Cup winners, has been entrusted with managing the Europe team by Michel Platini, the French football legend and the newly elected president of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations). In my opinion, an ad-hoc Europe team is a very good way of cementing European identity, especially in Britain.

The article also states that "Mr Lippi and Mr Roxburgh [assistant coach] have been given permission by UEFA to approach players from the 52 nations affiliated to the organisation." The problem is that out of those 52 national football associations, some are not in Europe - Israel, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Yet they are still affiliated to the Union of European Football Associations. That allows their clubs to compete in the European cups, and their national teams to play against more attractive opponents. The UEFA is happy to maintain this state of affairs, because the more national associations it has under its wings, the bigger its clout inside the FIFA, the global body governing football. However, there are serious implications of the UEFA's opportunistic policy: it gives an argument to those who would like the EU to enlarge forever, beyond Europe: "they play football with us, they are in the same cultural sphere." (For an explanation of the concept of the European Public Sphere, read an excellent article by Matteo Garavoglia on Le Taurillon.)

Let us hope that Lippi will only choose players from the current EU states, and other European nations. Indeed, should he include non-EU European players in his squad, it would boost the idea of European unification, which I described in this article for Le Taurillon.

No doubt that Chelsea's Andriy Shevchenko of Ukraine and Arsenal's Alexander Hleb of Belarus will get the nomination. Shevchenko's inclusion in the EU team would confirm the new pro-EU course of the Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukhovich. Yanukhovich was famously ousted by the "Orange Revolution" in 2004. Shevchenko stood up for him in the media, while Yanukhovich's archrival Yuschenko was supported by Ruslana, the winner of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest. Hleb's inclusion would give a signal to the people of Belarus that there is a European future for them, shall the Lukashenka's regime crumble.


Lukas said...

We've been over this discussion a lot of times, so it shouldn't surprise you if I tell you that I'm firmly of the opinion that the Caucasus and Turkey belong to Europe... ;)

rz said...

Turkey,Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan do belong geographically to Europe, don't they?

But what is the problem with enlarging beyond the geographical limits of Europe anyway? I am mean on a principle level?

Tomáš Ruta said...

Well, the Caucasian republics actually do not belong to Europe geographically. Of course you could argue that the geographical boundary there is arbitrary. As far as Turkey is concerned, apart from Thrace almost the whole country lies in Asia (that is why Anatolia is called Asia Minor).

But cultural boundaries are much more important than the geographical ones. If we Europeans are not culturally proximate, we cannot develop any sort of a common identity. And without common identity there is no further integration. That is why the most ardent Eurosceptics like British Conservatives or the Czech President want all these countries to join...

Anonymous said...

Tomas, after reading your support for NO to Turkey I realize that you are just an ordinary young Central European racist full of complexes. If you're saying yes to Caucaus especially to Azerbaijan then how can you say no to Turkey? Both share cultural, linguistic heritage as far as I know.
I am from Kazakhstan, currently studying in Latvia. I can't wait to get the hell out of this very racist, fascist baltic region. It was a BIG mistake to come here. Currently EU wants Central Asia energy resources and proposing its "strategy". I think Central Asia should form the Eurasian Union headed by Russia. I hope Russia will never ratify the energy charter treaty and I hope Russia will punish Estonia for the recent events with monument. In fact, Central Asian youth should urge their governments to opt-out from the ECT along with Russia.

Tomáš Ruta said...

I am not saying yes to Caucasus, that is a misunderstanding. Excuse, me the Russians are hundred times more xenophobic than Central Europeans; just think of Kondopoga riots!Russia would certainly welcome you back in the Union, but not because she loves you.

Anonymous said...

Tomas ne nado strelki perevodit' to Russia. I am perfectly aware of Russian xenophobia and I can pose this question to someone who is Russian. Right now the discourse is about your XENOPHOBIA towards people of Turkic descent, which means that you are against Central Eurasians. Why are so brain-washed and skillful in applying US-type double standards? So, because of energy security you can close an eye on Azerbaijan being Muslim? What about invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia if you so much want apology from Turkey for whatever you call genocide? To me this is very strange to insist on apology for something that happend before even Hitler, which means it was not even recognized genocide at that time? The law shall not be applied in retrospective, isn't it?

Tomáš Ruta said...

Firstly, I have nothing against the Turkic people(s). I only believe that they are no Europeans and so do not belong to the EU. Turkey not only has not apologised but it also denies that anything happened. I agree that the modern culture of being oh so politically correct and apologise for everything is silly, but to deny historical facts is disgusting. When I met the Turkish ambassador in London he would not even talk about the Armenian affair with me.

Are you trying to suggest that what the Turks did to Armenians was right just because there was no UN at the time???

Anonymous said...

First make Holland aplogize for being the fist ones to enslaving Africans and bringing them to US, Spanish for Maya and Azteks, the US for overall genocide, slavery, of Afican-Americans, Britain & US for invasion in Iraq, ok?!?
And about invasion by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabach, territory of Azervaijan?!?

Tomáš Ruta said...

I do not really feel responsible for Armenia's actions.

Armenia does not want to the EU. It is Turkey which needs to show its utmost respect to minorities and HR, not Armenia.

Anonymous said...

Also make Germany and Austria eternally apologize for Hitler, Israel for Lebanon if you have guts of course...?

Anonymous said...

I feel the need here to make distinction between not seeing Turkish people being European and being racist.

What Tomas is saying is that there is a clear cultural, geographical & religious border between Turkey and Europe. Thats all. This does not make him racist or an evil person, just slightly politically incorrect. And that just makes his comments more interesting.

Provocation & audacity! Keep the head up Tomas!

Tomáš Ruta said...


I simply believe that a federal European society to be created needs to have cultural foundations as well.

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