Jan 18, 2012

The National Team Of Non-Nationals

National teams of countries that play in international tournaments are made up of the best players from the various internal leagues of any given country. Unlike a regular team in a regular league, where they can hire foreign players, as per the rules of the league, the national team is only made up of local players, citizens of the state, and not foreign players.

In a country like Israel, such a simple rule is not so simple. In Israel we have many people who live here, many of whom might have even been here for many generations, yet do not hold Israeli citizenship. The Druze in the Golan Heights are one example. Many of these Druze have chosen to not take Israeli citizenship, due to their familial ties with people in Syria or for other reasons. You can find similar examples all over the country, be it anti-zionists who are Arabs or Jews, or be it people who find it more practical to not be an Israeli citizen for either tax reasons, travel reasons, or other reasons.

So what do you do when one of those local residents but non-citizens wants to, and is good enough to, play on the national team?

While it has not been a problem until now, wait long enough and it is sure to come up. And sure enough it has.

A player from the Maccabi Haifa team, Weaam Amasha, a Golan Druze, has no Israeli citizenship, yet qualified for the Israel national team.

FIFA announced it would allow Amasha to play for the Israel national team. MK Michael Ben-Ari is appealing the decision. Ben-Ari sent a letter to FIFa urging them to disqualify Amasha.

Ben Ari wrote (source: Ynetnews):
that Amasha does not hold an official Israeli identification card in principle, because he does not recognize the existence of the state.
The member of Knesset noted that any other country would have regarded him as a fifth column, adding that there was no precedent for a player being admitted to a national team without holding a passport or identification card.
In the letter, Ben-Ari demanded that Amasha be allowed on the team only after he agrees to carry an Israeli identification card.
If he does not want to be considered Israeli, I wonder why he would want to represent Israel in the first place.  While Ben-Ari makes a good point about the need to be a citizen, one must admit that most countries do not suffer from the same situation in which Israel exists. In essence, FIFA has allowed this to be a national team of non-nationals.

Israelis in general wont care. If Amasha scores enough goals, they'll be happy he is on the team. If he does not produce, they will mutter how he should not have been let on.


  1. Ben Ari can have his opinions, but he should keep them within the country. Legislate the country's team or whatever. We've done enough asking foreigners to help us by meddling with our problems, and Ben Ari should know that.

  2. Actually Ben Ari makes a really good point. I can see football teams paying the best players to "move" to their country and play for them. It really creates a large loophole for the "national teams".

    I hope that is Ben Ari's motivation.


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