domingo, 22 de julio de 2018
sábado, 21 de julio de 2018
After the end of the World cup Russia 2018, one of the most recurrent subjects discussed throughout the Media is about the contributions of immigration to the teams who participated in this tournament. The best 4 teams of this world cup were European. Out of those 4 teams, 3 of them are multiethnic teams: France, Belgium and England. Other European teams, like Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, have similar realities.
Today, I am going to write a brief analysis of one of them: Belgium. This country is not only Multicultural with an outstanding participation in this tournament, but it is also multilingual.
Belgium has 3 official languages: Dutch, French and German. There are other languages spoken, some of them are minority languages and the rest are languages that were brought by immigrants from different parts of the world.
Belgium is divided into 3 regions and 4 language areas: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels are the political regions. Flanders is a region where Dutch is the main language. It comprises 5 provinces. Wallonia is also a region composed of 5 provinces and where French is the main language. But East of the province of Liège, there is a small region where German is the main language, so Wallonia has 2 language areas. Brussels is the region where the capital of the country is located. It is a bilingual French-Dutch region. It has no provinces.
Belgians can use any of those 3 languages to communicate with the federal government. At a local level, they have to use the language of the region, but there are small areas in Flanders and Wallonia that have limited services in the language of the other.
When I visited Belgium in 2000, our tour guide told us that one of the requisites to become chief of state of this country is to be able to speak fluently in all the 3 official languages. Interestingly, Belgium is a kingdom. The King must be a polyglot. The Prime Minister is the head of the federal government, but no one expects him to speak in all the 3 official languages.
What happens with the football team of this country? Belgium has a football team where its players traditionally represent the 2 main linguistic areas of this kingdom. Part of the team speaks Dutch and the other speaks French. Some players can speak in both languages.
Now, the team that played in Russia 2018 has 7 players from Flemish families, 4 from Wallonia, 2 players with a Flemish and an immigrant parent and 10 players who were born in Belgium to foreign parents, 7 of them who were raised in a French-speaking area and 3 who grow up in a Dutch-speaking area. This means that there are 12 players who have at least a parent who was born outside Belgium. There are 9 players who have parents who were born in a French-speaking country.
It is interesting to know that players like Kompany, Boyata, Lukaku, Batshuayi and Thilemans have Congolese ancestry. There are 2 other players who recently have been also part of the Belgian team, Kabasele and Benteke who themselves were born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire). This country was a Belgian colony and became an independent country in 1960. Today, with more than 33 million French speakers, this country is the second country, after France itself, in terms of the number of French speakers, although most of them are not native speakers.
I counted 17 players who can speak French and 15 players who can speak Dutch (there are 9 bilinguals). These players who come from foreign families are indeed well integrated to the Belgian society and to their respective regions. But Belgian Football did not only benefit from immigration but from emigration as well. There are 13 players that have been playing in Britain for some time. I counted 18 players who can speak English, and this does not include the manager of the team, Roberto Martínez, who has lived in the UK for many years. This makes English the most spoken language in the Belgian Squad. Indeed, some reports from RTL Belgium and from the BBC confirm this. Belgians are using English as a common language in their Football team.
Language divisions have caused some issues in this country, and the balance between the use of Dutch and French at a federal level is something to care about. At least English is perceived as a neutral language that can be used to overcome such barriers.
Speaking of languages, Belgian football team has been enjoying the benefits not only from immigration but from migrations in general: Its language composition remains unchanged while they have an alternative solution for their language barriers.