by our intern Emilia Beutel
Success is the dream of every athlete and the hope of every country. Unfortunately, this does not always work out the way one would like it to. Small countries like Malta, for example, have a harder time than larger nations because there are not as many athletes here as in the USA, for example. Of course, this can be attributed to various reasons, such as the fact that the sports facilities are limited. Especially in sports like table tennis or basketball, Malta is not very well represented, which is why they have started to integrate athletes from other countries into Malta, give them Maltese citizenship after three years, and then let them compete for Malta.
The most prominent example is probably the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE), where a total of 214 athletes competed for Malta, of which 183 were of Maltese origin and 24 were of foreign origin.
This is very much criticised because they are accused of doing their best at the competition and getting paid for it, and the Maltese don’t get paid for their performance. But at the same time, it is normal for them because they do it for their country because they are proud of it. Nevertheless, this can now also falter, especially when they see that it is different for other athletes. This is not only the case in small countries like Malta; research has shown that it also happens in countries like France. Football player Kalidou Koulibaly, who was born in France to parents of Senegalese origin, represented France at the U20 World Cup in 2011. In 2015, however, he left France to represent Senegal.
Nevertheless, the majority of the GSSE medals won were by athletes of Maltese origin. Hopefully, this will lead to the younger generations in Malta being more motivated, or at least more ambitious, to succeed and fight for Malta in their sport one day.
But the question is also: Is it justified that people of other origins are paid to win medals for another country? On the one hand, it is not justified because the national team spirit is lost, and some athletes may feel betrayed or not good enough. On the other hand, nowadays it’s probably not just about national team spirit, pride, and love for one’s sport. It’s more about winning, with teams and nations giving their all to be successful. That is why the question arises at the same time: what is the price of success?
Especially in the world of sports, this is determined with money, and athletes are solicited with money so that the greatest possible success for a team or country jumps out. In most cases, the world of sports works like this, which is a pity considering how far people go for success.
In conclusion, it is understandable that locals cannot identify with athletes who are bought to ensure the success of a country. Nevertheless, the world is so busy in the meantime that this is how people act to get the most success out of a competition. At the same time, it can also provide children or young people with new role models and motivate them to become athletes themselves. So, it has its advantages and disadvantages to let athletes from another country fight for their country.