There are Fourteen teams qualified for the World Cup have at least one player of African origin in their squad. There are 136 soccer players at Qatar representing countries other than the ones in which they were born., most of them being from Africa. This isn’t a new trend. Many earlier players have turned out in World Cups for countries other than their places of birth. Eusebio, for example is a Portuguese great and the top scorer at the 1966 edition, was born in Mozambique. These players of African descent who are unfortunately playing for other countries, for various reasons.
The 2022 World Cup, which is hosted by tiny country Qatar has astonishing 16% of players have crossed borders to pursue their dream. Of those 75 players from the continent of Africa. Germany, France, Qatar, Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal are those who have the most. There are many African teams who would have been among favorites now, or who would qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, just if some of those players choose to play for their country of origin.
This doesn’t mean all players were actually born in Africa, France has no more than two players in team were born in Africa, and the same pattern holds for other European teams and Canada. England and the USA have no Africa-born players. Timothy Weah, the American forward, son of the Liberian president and soccer idol George Weah, was born in New York City.
Still, the action on the field at Qatar 2022 bears a strong imprint of African migration. France’s Kylian Mbappe, one of the tournament’s best scorers and early contender for best player, was born to a Cameroonian father, as was his teammate Aurélien Tchouaméni. Cody Gakpo, another top scorer from the Netherlands, was born to a Togolese father. The tournament’s youngest player, 18-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, plays for Germany but was born in Cameroon.
The stories of how African players or their families got to the other side of the world are not always so stereotypical as one might imagine. The world cup, besides a month of football, is also a way to find out about how humans move through the world.
One of the most talked about stories in this tournament is that of Breel Embolo, who was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, but represents the Swiss national team and refused to celebrate after scoring against his country of birth last week. Embolo scored the only goal in the 1-0 Switzerland victory. It was the first goal he ever scored in a world cup, and the video of it went viral. But it wasn’t because of his technique, it was because he refused to celebrate. So when he scored for his adopted country against Cameroon, he decided to stop and hold his arms up while his teammates celebrated around him.
As stated on the ongoing 2022 World Cup in Qatar, quite a number of African players were seen representing non-African countries. Here are the players who represent non African countries, with some impactful players
Algeria/Morocco: Karim Boudiaf
Algeria: Boualem Kouki
Cape Verde: Pedro Miguel Carvalho “Ro-Ro
Egypt: Ahmed Alaaldin
Ghana: Mohammed Muntari
Sudan: Meshaal Barsham, Musab Khedar, Abdulaziz, Assim Madibo, Almoez Ali
Ivory Coast: Nathan Aké
Ghana: Jeremie Frimpong, Memphis Depay
Ghana/Togo: Cody Gakpo
Nigeria: Bukayo Saka
Angola: Ben Cabango
Ghana: Ethan Ampadu
Sierra Leone: Sorba Thomas
Ghana: Yunus Musah
Liberia: Haji Wright, Timothy Weah
South Africa: Keanu Baccus
South Sudan: Garang Kuol, Awer Mabil
Gambia: Alexander Bah
Tanzania: Yussuf Poulsen
Angola/Congo: Eduardo Camavinga
Eduardo Camavinga is a professional footballer who plays for the France national team. He is a midfielder for La Liga clubside Real Madrid. He was born in a refugee camp in Angola to Congolese parents but grew up in France.
Algeria: Karim Benzema
Algeria/Cameroon: Kylian Mbappé
Benin: Jules Koundé
Cameroon: Aurélien Tchouameni, William Saliba
DR Congo: Steve Mandanda, Randal Kolo Muani, Axel Disasi
Senegal/Mali/Mauritania: Ousmane Dembélé
Burundi: Thilo Kherer
Cameroon: Armel Bella-Kotchap, Youssoufa Moukoko
Ivory Coast: Serge Gnabry
Nigeria: Jamal Musiala
Senegal: Leroy Sané
Sierra Leone: Antonio Rüdiger
Guinea-Bissau: Ansu Fati
The 20-year-old plays as a forward for La Liga club Barcelona and the Spain national team. He was born in Guinea-Bissau but chose to represent the Spain national team after gaining citizenship.
Ghana: Nico Williams
Guinea: Alejandro Balde
Ghana: Jeremy Doku
Morocco/DR Congo: Loïs Openda
DR Congo: Romélu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans, Michy Batshuayi
Senegal/Cameroon: Amadou Onana
Ivory Coast: Ismaël Koné
Ghana: Richie Laryea
Liberia: Alphonso Davies
Nigeria: Ike Ugbo, Samuel Adekugbe
Cameroon: Breel Embolo
Cape Verde: Edimilson Fernandes
Nigeria: Manuel Akanji, Noah Okafor
Senegal: Djibril Sow
South Sudan/Congo: Denis Zakaria
Angola: Nuno Mendes, William Carvalho, Joao Mario, Rafael Leao
Guinea-Bissau: Danilo Pereira