With nationality seemingly so arbitrary and yet so important is it any wonder the media make such a fuss about players like Robin Quaison?
It was the sickeningly talented Tom Stoppard in his 1990 classic of artistic comedy “Rozencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” that dismissed an entire nation in four short lines. Almost throw-away in its brevity, the phrasing made it a joke of far more depth and implication than merely part of the flowing banter between the utterly superb pairing of Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. Admittedly the film is full of such moments but this particularly one struck at something as pertinent in Shakespeare’s time as our own.
I Am Swedish
• Palermo player clarifies
• Quaison quashes rumors
• Wants to play alongside greats
The movie centers around two minor characters from Hamlet, those named in the title, and follows their progress away from what would normally be seen by a theater audience watching one of the bard’s best works. It is an intelligent, witty, well crafted romp that has many moments of ultra quotability, and whilst many will recall the game of questions played by the two stars in a tennis court, it is a small exchange between these two that has long stuck in my addled mind.
“I don’t believe in it anyway.” Guildernstern, the almost perpetually vexed of the two, says in a tone of easy dismissal.
“What?” Rosencrantz replies somewhat characteristically baffled.
“England.” His friend responds diffidently.
“Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?” Questions Rosencrantz with a veiled tinge of sarcasm.
Now whilst obviously I won’t be gambling news of England’s existence will shock you, to a nominal (if rather subjective) definition of existence, the concept of nations is one of those unquestioned certainties that lies on the edges of rationality, a man made artificial framework we blithely accept as the ‘way things are’ without every really questioning where it hails from. We ascribe it to accidents of history, we blame it on culture or language, religion or politics, and we still to this day try to kill each other to define it. Mostly this is because the maps are wrong. All of them.
Were We Caught Mapping?
If you want to see a cartographer squirm ask him about “projection” and the rendering of a spherical object, say, the planet Earth, on a flat piece of paper, like, you know, all the maps in the world. He or she will be forced to admit that actually, it’s impossible to do so accurately, with a compromise having to be made towards either area, or either of the two dimensions left over. Maps are, inherently, a pack of lies disguised as fact that we’ve chosen to accept in their current form because the alternative was a dangerous ignorance.
The fact that the people choosing what we had to accept were precisely those with a vested interest in the presentation of information in this inherently inaccurate form seems to have escaped us. We’ve burdened ourselves with an accepted reality that was based on a desperate desire on the part of those in power to manipulate our perception. The nations of colonization represented bigger than their colonies of far larger size, the supposed center of the world still Greenwich, the ball of dirt in space we call home still orientated THIS WAY UP despite it being entirely arbitrary.
You can get on your mobile betting Google Maps will direct you to where you’re going in relative safety, of course, because maps don’t especially need to be accurate at a local or tactical level, the maps of public transport systems rarely reflect much spacial reality, but as a representation of location they suffice, it is only on this global scale, this intra-national division, if you will, that things get a bit sticky. The problem, as such, is that they perpetuate the dangerously silly concept of nationalism. Nationalism in of itself is not a problem, the problem is it is never ‘in of itself’ but always a matter of comparison.
Whilst it might be a little unfair to lay the blame for modern nations constantly competing at the feet of cartographers (those loathsome capitalists need a stern talking to as well in my opinion), or even those who commissioned or employed cartographers, and the idea of doing away with all nations to live in peace and harmony together as one species is an idea best kept to yourself (just ask Jesus, Gandhi and Lennon), it is lamentable that it takes a super piece of humor from an amazing movie to make us even glance in the direction of nations thus nationality as a concept.
Not A Question For Quaison
Of course doing away with nations would bugger up FIFA something rotten, which is possibly a good reason to give a try, but the spectacle of international football is actually a pretty good argument for the continuation of the status quo as teams from around the globe compete in friendlies and tournaments alike. Players strive to be good enough to play for their nation, to represent their country on the field, continuing proud traditions, sport perhaps the one arena where nationalism should be permitted to remain.
This doesn’t, however, really allow the media to start questioning the nationality of players who happen to have parents from differing countries. Take Robin Kwamina Quaison currently playing for Palermo, his father Ghanaian, his mother Swedish, he has represented Sweden at the youth and Under-21 level and is likely to find a future in the Swedish senior team alongside football’s legend-du-jour Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Not, of course, that the Ghanaian press think so, deciding instead to rumor-monger about his possibly changing nationality to play for the Black Stars.
“I am Swedish.” Quaison states flatly as if being questioned on his ownership of a head, “I was born here and this is where I grew up. I have been waiting for the day I would get to share the dressing room with Kim Kallstrom, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander and everyone else in the Swedish squad.”
“It has always been Sweden.” Said the midfielder who has made fans amongst the Serie A betting fraternity for his frenetic skills, despite relatively few appearances, “Playing for Ghana has never been an option.” Which does contradict an off-hand comment in a radio interview in Ghana, but that slip of the tongue is unlikely to derail Quaison’s quest to play for Sweden. With Sweden gambling laws the way they are you might have to finagle a bit to get on ComeOn! Sportsbook if you wish to back your country or indeed Palermo, but it may well be worth it.
Sweden might have failed to qualify for two successive World Cups but that has just made them more hungry for success and hinging the team around some great rising talents has done their prospects no harm with qualification for Russia and the winter wonderland that will be Qatar 2022 still up for grabs. Nations might well be a conspiracy of cartographers but playing for one’s country as Quaison will, in due course, still remains untainted by anything more than Sepp Blatter and media silliness.