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Rocking the Boatengs: is it too easy to switch footballing loyalties?

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Ben James Ben James | 19:03 UK time, Wednesday, 23 June 2010

STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty ImagesTwo brothers who could be on the pitch together in the Ghana v Germany game later have made plenty of headlines since the nations were drawn against each other.

Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng both grew up in Berlin and both have the same Ghanaian dad; they're half-brothers, with different German mums.

Despite the near identical background, Jerome is likely to be on Germany's bench tonight - and Kevin-Prince will start for Ghana.

After playing for German national youth teams as a teenager, Kevin-Prince opted for Ghana last year when it was clear his chances with the senior German side would be limited: he made his debut last month.

Controversial enough, even before he crocked German captain Michael Ballack in the FA Cup final.

And he's not the only player in this World Cup to play for a different country to the one you might have originally expected.

A couple of the Portuguese goals so far have been scored by Liedson from Brazil who naturalised last year (something Portugal's Players' Union resented).

Argentina has given Jonathan Santana and Nestor Ortigoza to Paraguay and Matias Fernandez to Chile.

An incredible 17 of 23 Algerian players were born outside Algeria (and some hadn't even visited until recently).

Winding back a couple of years, who can forget the late Polish President Kaczynski suddenly coming up with citizenship for Brazilian Roger Guerreiro two months before Euro 2008?!

They've been having this debate in Vietnamese football recently:

Coach Calisto has pledged to call up only 'good' naturalised players and to preserve the essential identity of the Vietnamese squad.

... because, let's face it, we'd all swallow any objections we might have if Lionel Messi had suddenly decided he wanted to play for our team - wouldn't we?!

Lots of questions and lots of issues here ... maybe this is a natural consequence of a globalised world, with split family loyalties, a mobile workforce and a more complex view of nationality?

Or does choosing a nation not for reasons of loyalty and passion, but just to get a game in a big tournament, devalue international football?

And should it be harder to switch between countries if you've already represented one at youth level?

Frankly, do you really care, as long as they're good players and on your side?!

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