Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The treason scale: Where does Begovic weigh in?

I couldn't help noticing that a rather pointedly-worded post by squizz of some canadian guys about Asmir Begovic's traitordom received more than the usual number of comments. I can only assume that a link was posted on some Bosnian message board, which resulted in greater pageviews and poorer grammar, spelling, and logic in the resulting comments.

One of these things is not like the others

Since I'll take quantity over quality any day when it comes to readers, I've chosen to weigh in.

Let me begin by stating that I deplore players raising flags of convenience when it comes to international football. If the rules were to become any looser, the World Cup becomes nothing more than a glorified Champions League.

I'm also fully aware that Canada is not the only country to suffer losses under the current system, and we've benefited in a few cases as well. Though on this point, I'd hardly put Will Johnson or Marc Bircham in the same class as Owen Hargreaves and Jonathan de Guzman.

Not all inglourious basterds are created equally, so I've created a rating scale to measure the various acts of treason. Measurements from 1 to 10 are taken in the following categories, and an averaging function is applied:

Ethnicity duplicity (ED): How fair is the player's claim to be of another country? What claim can Canada have to this player?
Effin' FA (EF): What slights, perceived or real, did this player experience at the hand of national or provincial associations? (A high score indicates the player was treated fairly)
Liar liar (LL): Did the player commit to Canada before changing his mind?

Since we have a fairly extensive case history to work with, let me use a few examples before I deal with Asmir.


8.3 (ED: 10; EF: 3; LL: 7)

If ever there was a perfect time for a rogue wave in London . . .

Probably the most high-profile example. Owen was born and raised in Calgary, and hadn't lived a day of his life in England before suiting up for the three lions. Germany could make a greater claim to him than England at that point, fake Mancunian accent notwithstanding. He was cut from a Canadian U17 team, which is not a good reason to turn your back on your country, but I'll admit it was a factor. At various times he claimed somewhat non-commitally that Canada was in his plans.


3.7 (ED: 6; EF: 3; LL: 2)

As much as I hate to admit it, I don't entirely begrudge JDG2's decision to choose the Oranje. Maybe it's my Dutch sympathies, but I think if there is a right way to betray your country, Jonathan did it. He never declared that he would play for Canada, and it seems as though the De Guzman clan have been wronged in some way by the OSA/CSA brain trust. As far as being Dutch, I doubt he's pedalling a 3-speed internal hub bike in clogs quite yet, but he did come by it honestly. He's been with Feyenoord for 6 years, has a Dutch child and girlfriend, and speaks the language as you would expect a Rotterdammer to do (that is to say, impolitely).

On to the most recent case:


7.7 (ED: 5; EF: 10; LL: 9)

The wound is still fresh, so perhaps my analysis will be off somewhat. I'll give Asmir some leeway on the ethnicity front. He was born there, and only left because of war. But at some point he decided he was Canadian enough to wear the jersey for the U20 team. He was given every opportunity to be part of the Canadian set up. You could argue cynically that he should have been subbed into a match in the 91st minute in World Cup Qualifying, except at that point there was no reason for us to suspect a FIFA rule change that would render this particular act of turncoatery possible. And, of course, he lied about wanting to represent Canada. When he went on radio mere weeks before defecting and, of course, when he actually represented Canada.

So for my regular and largely rational readership, try out a few examples on your own (Dani Fernandes, Steven Vitoria, Sydney Leroux, even nationals of other countries like De Rossi or Marco Senna) and run them through the Treason Tron.

And for any potential new Bosnian readers, unleash the full power of your youtube-commenter-level IQ and devastate me in the comments. I can take it.


squizz said...

Oh yeah, it got linked on some message board alright. Today is our biggest day ever in terms of pageviews, and it's not even 5 p.m. as I type this. The first 10 or so comments were kinda funny, but you can only wade through the same poorly-conceived nonsense from anonymous mouthbreathers so many times before it just gets stale.

Lord Bob said...

With your last sentence in mind, I'm not sure how my comments keep getting approved.

(As has been established, my name isn't even Bob.)

Valentina Hasan said...

No one ken to ken to sivmen,
nor yon clees toju maliveh.
When i gez aju zavateh na nalechoo more,
new yonooz tonigh molinigh,
Yon sorra shooo,
yes ee shooo, ooo.
-Ken leee
tulibu dibu douchoo
Ken Lee,
Ken lee meju more.
Ken Lee
tulibu dibu douchoo
Ken Lee,
Ken lee meju more

patriot said...

I pretty much agree with you. JDG2 was acceptable as he took the development opportunities the Dutch system had to offer and became a real part of their socity.

While you could say that if you had a chance to play for another country why wouldn't you? Canada has a terrible record. But....Owen and especially Asmir would be strung up for their treason if football were any more serious and political than it is. Espcially the kid who got the Adidas ad based on how this country saved him from a war torn existance. and egg and beer shower will be fitting for him if he ever returns to play against our national team. Hopefully some crazy good bosnian goalies are developed in the next little while and he sees zero playing time for the rest of career. Hope he's still playing in his bedroom in bosnia as their team competes for WC placements.

J said...

Starting to get some action in the comments. Great.

Valentina, can you provide a translation? Or are you spambot?

patriot, I've had the conversation (what would you do in a position like Hargreaves) before with some of my friends. Not hardcore Canadian supporters, just Canadians who happen to be soccer fans. They say they'd jump ship in a second if a World Cup opportunity arose (in their case, Germany). I'd like to think I'm not that selfish.

But I think it is more important to look from the other angle. Do international sports have any kind of integrity if you can trade in flags for personal gain?

I know a lot of Canada's most famous athletes (Donovan Bailey, Lennox Lewis before he went Brit, even Steve Nash was born in South Africa) are born elsewhere, but in most of those cases they integrated into Canadian society before putting on the colours.

squizz said...

Hey Jono, you can't stick your hand in a beehive and be surprised if you get stung a few times.