The situation of Mezut Ozil has pissed me off so much that whatever little support or any big respect I had for German football hangs on a thin thread. I can totally understand that he has left the national team of ungrateful and hateful fans, who indeed treated him well when things go well, and badly when things go badly, as they did for Germany in the last World Cup.
Now this is a symptom of the much wider problems of nationalism, where too many people think that you cannot love or identify with more than one nation. Nations are mental constructs! They only exist in people's mind. And from that mind comes a lot of symbols in the form of paper, cloth, songs, stories, etc., that basically just exist to constantly reconfirm this mental construct.
Football also contributes to recreate this mental construct. That is basically the only reason for having the World Cup at a time when football is a global sport: I can sit in Liberia watching an English League match where a Frenchman of Malian descent plays alongside a Spaniard of Catalonian heritage to score a goal against a Belgian (Waloon) goalkeeper for a club owned by a Russian. In this global mixture a player or a fan may love multiple teams, may love multiple countries and may count his heritage from many parts of the world.
I admire Mr. Ozil because he, like so many of us in the world with mixed heritage says what we all know: that you can belong and feel proud of having a multiple cross-national background, so incredibly rich in its diversity, and so incredibly open to the wonders of this world that I often pity the people whose narrow minds limits them to a particular mental construct.
Quoting the fantastic writer Mr. Amin Maalouf:
"I am at the edge of two worlds, of two or
three languages, of many cultural traditions. It is precisely that which
defines me… I do not have many identities, I have one, made up of all
these elements…. "but deep inside, what do you feel you are?": this
reoccurring question made me smile for a long time. Today, I do not
smile at it anymore. It seems to me that it shows a dangerous way of
seeing the world that is very wide-spread nowadays. It supposes that
there is, within each of us, only one belonging which matters, an
essence which is determined once and for all at birth and which will
never change; as if the rest – your journey through life as a free
person, your convictions, your preferences, your sensibilities, your
affinities, in short your life – counted for nothing. And we push others
to strengthen their identity as we so often do nowadays, it is as if we
were telling them to find, deep within themselves, this theoretical
original belonging, which is most often ethnic, national, religious or
racial, and throw it in the face of others."
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