A Brazilian player for the Russian national team? The fans’ verdicts

FC Krasnodar’s Brazilian-born forward Wanderson has recently said in an interview that he would – if the possibility arose – be interested in playing for the Russian national side. A story covered widely by Russia’s sports press, fans commented on it in their hundreds.

Below are selected comments from two popular sources of football news in Russia, Sport-Express.ru and Championat.com. Comments with indents and a dash before them are replies fans gave to the previous comment:

 

No thanks..can you sign the Russian National Anthem in Russian? Same can be said of the trainer [Fabio Capello].

 

A great forward, but I’m against this. A naturalised national team is a world team.

   -So we’ll keep on falling flat on our faces at the group stages. Look at the current world champions: Germans, Poles, a Turk etc.

 

I won’t support the Russian team if, like Switzerland, it has its Xhakas and Seferovichs playing for it. A load of Macedonians and Brazilians support teams like that [as well as fans from that country].

 

The nationalist-chauvinist census has begun. A worthy player, would suit the national side.

 

If Wanderson was born and raised in Russia then definitely! But as things are, no!

 

No need…the [Sochi] Olympics were so shameful with Koreans and America winning medals for us.

 

Go home…dirty foreign worker.

   – You should be ashamed for humiliating the Russian nation with nationalism and chauvinism! World football is fed by internationalism! Zidane is an Algerian who played for France, and there are lots of such examples. Don’t write such foul things – it’s football and not Nazism!

 

If at least one of his parents was a Russian citizen, like [Stoke City forward Peter Odemwingie] then yes, but our team isn’t bad – we just need an attack-minded manager.

 

We don’t need him? Fine – just don’t moan when we don’t get out of the group at World Cup 2018. At Sochi nobody started shouting when a Korean and an American won five golds for us.

 

Against this:
1. He doesn’t speak fluent Russian
2. He’s 28 (not a youngster)
3. There are other players of the same level
4. We need to develop our own players, and not naturalise average players
5. It’s a road to nowhere

 

Personally I’m fed up with watching eleven useless millionaires running round the pitch who’ve got themselves comfy and know they’ll be in the side no matter what. Such footballers are an embarrassment to our country, but not a Brazilian who’s taking the decision to swap nationality and play for us. I’m 100% certain he’d at least apologise for mistakes and tear it up on the pitch like a player should do. Generally I’m in favour – it’ll help bring in fresh blood.

 

Well, yes. We always have our own way of doing things. No European country has a national side made up of players entirely from the ‘title’ nationality, and fans support them. But we are the greatest, and have no equal on the planet in terms of racial purity. Strange for a multi-nationality country.

 

We don’t need the same ‘happiness’ as they have in France, for example. We have enough multiculturalism in Moscow at Eid al-Adha.

 

Yes, yes, let’s naturalise players like we did for the Olympics. In fact, why do we need youth academies? We can just hand out passports and not worry.

 

Russia isn’t only made up of ethnic Russians. As long as there is use then I think let him play. Getting upset because only ethnic Russians should play is a load of rubbish.

 

You’ve got to be able to support your own people when it comes to the national team. Of course, we could naturalise 25 Brazilians – they might even win something. But it won’t be the Russian national team. Those born and raised here should play, or else those who moved here, learned the language and got citizenship.

 

Oh, how good was it when Ukrainians like Kanchelskis and Salenko played for us…I don’t understand how these foreigners differ from those…apparently it’s better to be at the same level as Honduras, but with only Russians playing for us.

 

We need to boldly use the naturalisation process. If someone starts talking about patriotism they’re talking rubbish. Good old Andrey [Arshavin] answered all the questions about that after the loss to Greece in 2012. [Arshavin told fans it was ‘their problem’ if they were upset by Russia’s performance]

 

Don’t compare those who competed at the Olympics with Wanderson. [speed skater Viktor] Ahn can speak Russian, [snowboarder Vic] Wild has a Russian wife. Wanderson doesn’t have any link to Russia.

 

I won’t support the national team if it accepts black players.

   – Bravo! That means Russia won’t be threatened with FIFA sanctions for fascist flags or bananas thrown on the pitch, for shameful monkey chants…if tens of morons don’t go to the national team’s games it means thousands of ordinary people will do.

 

The quantities of positive/negative answers here reflect the figures in a poll Sport Express carried out. In the poll, 42.5% were in favour of Wanderson playing for Russia, 57.5% against.

The usual depressing racially-motivated answers are here (and even more depressingly, they aren’t a tiny minority), but others are against for non-racial reasons. I take two positive notes from these answers. One is the considerable number of fans in favour of the concept, if not the player (the argument that he’s no better than the current players is a fair one in my opinion). Two is a tendency I’ve noticed amongst Russian football fans in recent years – a greater and greater willingness to self-police and speak out against racist comments. Previously comments like this would have more likely just been ignored.

Saul Pope is a blogger on Russian and Ukrainian football and contributor to ‘When Saturday Comes’ magazine. He can be followed on Twitter: @saulpope

More on the same topic:

Black players at Zenit? The fans’ views

Russian fans hold the key to eradicating racism in their stadiums

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