Patriotism can’t be transferred. You shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which country you represent.
If you’re eligible through a family tree for more than one country that’s fine, but once you’ve represented a nation at any age group, even in friendlies, that should be that.
You’re committed. You shouldn’t be able to switch because you could earn more money or achieve more glory with another country. That’s not how international sport should work.
Representing your country should be a career pinnacle. If you’re forced to learn a second national anthem you’ve devalued your achievement. I suppose you could be like England cricket captain, and ex-Ireland international, Eoin Morgan was for years and not bother joining in the pre-match sing-song. At least that dilutes claims of hypocrisy.
Kevin Pietersen was of course the worst cricketing example of posturing under a flag of convenience. He spoke like a South African and texted like one as well when he inevitably fell out with the real Englishmen in the dressing room and decided to offer privileged information to his fellow countrymen.
I have loathed overseas sportspeople using my country since the Daily Mail decided South African Zola Budd should run for Great Britain in an Olympic Games.
In more recent times I’ve watched Kenyans running for Denmark as well as Americans running for England because they weren’t good enough to get into the USA team. It’s absurd and just plain wrong.
In this year’s Six Nations France fielded a South African who qualified because he’d spent three years playing rugby union in his adopted country, and because he’s never been good enough to play for his real country.
Football is no better. Declan Rice played for all the Ireland youth teams and appeared in three senior friendlies and yet now he’s English, apparently.
What nonsense. Did anyone force Rice to play for Ireland? Presumably he was happy enough to be involved through the age groups as he was quick to accept the chance to play for the senior side.
But as Rice is now enjoying a breakthrough season in the Premier League with West Ham United, England came calling and turned his head.
Under Gareth Southgate there is a real chance he could make an appearance for England’s team very soon, but he shouldn’t have the choice.
Anyway it could all backfire. When Rice, who could turn out to be a one-season wonder, realises he can’t dislodge Eric Dier from the starting line-up he might start yearning for a bit of Mick McCarthy-style football.
Of course sympathy for Ireland has to be diluted by their own quest to find England players to make them more competitive. Players like Andy Townsend and Tony Cascarino were picked for Ireland because of Irish grandmothers, but at least they hadn’t played for England first.