Diego Costa chooses Spain over Brazil

Picture: Liverpool Echo
Picture: Liverpool Echo

This week saw another controversial twist in the subject of football players representing countries they were not born in.

Athletico Madrid striker Diego Costa has committed his international future to Spain even though he has played 2 friendly games for Brazil, his country of birth.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe if you are a professional sports person you should represent the country you are born in.

This view was echoed by Scotland Under 21 manager Billy Stark, when talking about Manchester United’s new Belgian starlet Adnan Januzaj potentially becoming a naturalised British citizen and representing England on the international stage.

The winger could represent a whole host of countries including Belgium, Kosovo, Serbia, Turkey and Albania but is wanted by both Croatia and England.

It is when you look at cases like this and Diego Costa’s that I completely agree with Billy Stark in that international football is in “danger of becoming a laughing stock.”

Costa, 25, is the Spanish La Liga’s top scorer with 12 goals in 11 matches following his side’s victory over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

Although he played for Brazil in a friendly against Italy earlier this year in Geneva, he has rejected the country’s call for him to play in upcoming matches.

Instead he has chosen to commit his international future to what he dubs his adopted homeland, Spain, a country he says has ‘given him everything.’

Rules state that although Diego Costa has played for Brazil, he is able to change sides as the game in Geneva was only a friendly.

This has angered the Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol (CBF), whose president Jose Maria Marin deemed Spain’s pursuit of calling up the player ‘illegal.’

Now what I would like to know is; if Costa is available for selection and does play for Spain against South Africa and Russia but realises he doesn’t really fancy it, can he then revert back to being a Brazilian player?

I don’t see why not, I mean after all the games are only friendlies and it is the same precedent that has allowed him to switch allegiances in the first place.

When you scratch the surface, you realise it is a slippery slope and that many other players could follow his footsteps in the future.

One thing I will say though is that Diego Costa has not taken the easy option by choosing Spain.

He would be more than likely guaranteed a place in a Brazil side that are short in attacking options and have still to find a partner for the prodigal Neymar.

By choosing Spain, Costa will have to compete against the likes of David Villa, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, Alvaro Negredo and Roberto Soldado to gain a place in the squad, never mind the starting eleven.

However, as shocking as his decision may be, Diego Costa is not the first player to represent more than one country at international level.

UEFA President Michel Platini is famously known for his international career with France but also played an exhibition match for Kuwait.

Two Real Madrid greats, Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano, both played for more than one international team.

Puskas played for Hungary but also Spain, and Di Stefano for Argentina, Columbia and Spain.

I honestly find it difficult to comprehend how you could play for three countries.

Being a person that plays a number of sports, if I was at a standard where I could compete internationally I would only want to represent Great Britain.

It is a sense of pride and patriotism that I imagine would push you to performing to your highest level.

This is why I find it hard to believe that you could get fired up playing for a country you have little relation to.

For example, if my gran was Jamaican I could technically represent them in a sport of my choosing.

But I wouldn’t, I was born in Scotland and my life has been shaped by both Scottish and British values.

It is at this point I can maybe slightly relate to Costa in that he believes Spain has given him opportunities and shaped the person and footballer he is today.

That aside, the Brazilian or should I say Spaniard’s (?) decision to switch allegiances is sure to provoke an interesting crowd reaction next summer at the 2014 Brazil World Cup, if and when he walks out wearing the Spanish shirt.

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