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Turks, But No Turks
Germany's largest minority not represented in final World Cup line up
Asad Yawar (AlexYawar)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-25 13:41 (KST)   
Germany's 2006 World Cup squad is likely to be the most cosmopolitan in the country's history. Players born in Poland (Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose) and Brazil (Kevin Kuranyi) stud the team sheet, and despite the country not having had a large colonial presence in sub-Saharan Africa, the exotic origins of Patrick Owomoyela (Nigeria) and Gerald Asamoah (Ghana) are clear.

However, there is no one of Turkish descent in the German ranks, despite the fact that they are Germany's largest minority community -- numbering 2.7 million people -- and that they are almost universally in love with football. Why is this?

Partly, the reason stems from Germany's very stringent nationality laws, which until very recently conferred citizenship only on people with at least one ethnic German parent, or those who had undergone an arduous naturalization process.

While this explains why Owomoyela, who has a German mother, and Asamoah, who came to Germany 16 years ago, are able to line up for Die Nationalelf, it does not illuminate why highly accomplished and socially integrated players of Turkish origin were not able to acquire citizenship.

For example, the recently-retired Umit Davala was born in Mannheim, speaks German, Turkish, Italian and English to a high standard, and played for both AC Milan and Internazionale, as well as Werder Bremen and Galatasaray, winning two European titles with the latter. Tayfun Korkut, an exciting box-to-box midfielder who was a hit in La Liga with Real Sociedad and Espanyol and is still active with Besiktas in Istanbul, started his career with Stuttgart Kickers.

Umit and Tayfun would have been superb additions to any German squad, but were overlooked, not even classified as German.

Germany's nationality laws were liberalized under the Schroeder administration, but ironically even second and third generation Turks with dual nationality have not been pursued by the German federation. This has engendered a bizarre situation where many of the Bundesliga's best performers, players who were born and raised in Germany and who know German football inside out, are being called up for another country.

So in World Cup year, when Germany badly lack depth and imagination in most departments, they are not able to use the talents of Nuri Sahin of Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga's youngest ever debutante; twins Halil and Hamit Altintop, who star for Kaiserslautern and Schalke 04 respectively; and Yildiray Basturk, Hertha Berlin's playmaker who starred for the Turkish national team at Korea/Japan 2002.

The Turkish Football Federation have an extensive scouting network in Germany and encourage local Turkish talent to play for Turkey. It is high time that their German counterparts gave them some competition.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Asad Yawar

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