Half Of This German Team Would Not Have Been German Enough For 1998 World Cup

If Americans thought that we had developed a rivalry with England after a few months of World Cup build and a 1-0 upset 60 years ago, our feud with the motherland is nothing compared to how they feel about the Germans. And, as luck would have it, England's second place finish in Group C has put them into the second round with a face-to-face showdown against their most bitter of soccer rivals. ↵

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↵Even the English media are getting into it, as the Daily Mail has a report this morning that suggests as many as 11 of the 23 members of the German squad aren't really even Germans at all, at least in the traditional sense. In fact, because of ridiculously antiquated citizenship laws dating back three generations, none of the 11 players would have been acknowledged as citizens – and thus able to play for the German team – just 12 years ago. ↵

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↵⇥[M]any of them wouldn't have even been able to play for the three-times World Cup winners, until a recent change in the country's strict citizenship laws. Under strict citizenship laws dating back to 1913 and the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, only children born in Germany to parents who were both Germans themselves could be considered German. At the time Germany was in a frenzy of nationalism as it armed in preparation for the First World War. ↵⇥

↵⇥They were not repealed until 1999 as Germany - mindful of having the most dramatically declining birthrate in the world - finally made it easier to become a citizen of the Fatherland. ↵⇥

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↵⇥The new-look German side is collectively known as 'Generation M' for 'multi-cultural'. ↵⇥

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↵Here's a graphic of which players would not have been welcome on the 1998 squad, a list that includes Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil, Jerome Boateng and, of course, Cacau, who only became a German citizen after moving there from Brazil when he was 19. It should be noted that, since Michael Ballack was replaced on the squad, the entire German roster plays club ball in the German Bundesliga, so this new crop of "import" is technically German by country as well as club. ↵

↵I suppose the report actually makes this incarnation of the German squad look decidedly more diverse and progressive than any in the country's illustrious soccer history. So perhaps the report isn't an opportunity to stoke the flames of a rivalry at all. Still, an image of the German side with numbers covering 11 of the players like a scarlet letter does smack a bit of, "hey, remember when your country was run by fascists?" And that kind of accusation is always good for flame stoking. ↵

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↵Not that these flames needs much stoking, mind you. The war of words between the two sides has been nothing short of spectacular with German legend Franz Beckenbauer repeatedly taking public shots at the English side. First, he accused them of trying to beat the United States with "kick and rush" tactics, which, coincidentally, is how my old middle school coach taught us how to play ("You boot the ball to the flags and let the wings run under it," still haunts my dreams to this day, Mr. Redes). ↵

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↵Fabio Capello, the high-priced England manager, shot back, "[w]hen you speak about another team you should always respect them," and "[i]t is easy to speak about a team when you sit in the stand(s)." ↵

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↵This was all before they knew Germany would be playing England in the second round. Now, Beckenbauer has gone on the attack even more, calling the English squad "burned out": ↵

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↵⇥"The Premier League players have got to play far more games than their Bundesliga colleagues, including two national cup competitions. Therefore, when it comes to a World Cup or a European Championship, they are burnt out. ↵⇥

↵⇥"Our players, on the other hand, seem to be in a physically better condition. Of course we respect them, but we certainly don't fear them." ↵⇥

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↵Of course, Beckenbauer has a history with England, as his German side lost to the Brits in the 1966 World Cup Final before defeating them in the second round in 1970. It has not been a friendly exchange between the two sides thus far. It should only get more interesting by Sunday's match.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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