The unifying power of soccer – the UEFA Cup in France
The many multi-ethnic teams that will be meeting each other during the European Soccer Championships in France are not only a model for successful integration, but also for a coexistence of cultures and religions. We present some of the key players.
Paul Pogba: undoubtedly the golden boy of the host team France. At 23, Paul Pogba may still be very young, but he not only sets the pace within the Equipe tricolore, he's also one of the superstars of Juventus Turin. The Muslim players in the France national squad, which include among others Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Bacary Sagna, have decided not to observe Ramadan during the UEFA Cup finals
Adil Rami: the leap into the Equipe tricolore occurred at the last minute and is a unexpected career boost for Adil Rami, who is of Moroccan heritage and plays for European league series winner Sevilla FC. As far as the French national team goes, the 30-year-old is seen as a versatile talent in defence
Hakan Calhanoglu: the Bayer Leverkusen player has yet to attain superstar status. As part of the Rhenish club with working class roots, the 22-year-old Turk is a free kicks and corners specialist. Playing on the Turkish national team, together with Arda Turan he bolsters the attack. The Turks could progress a long way in this tournament – perhaps also because of Calhanoglu's uncanny ability of looping free kicks into the corner at decisive moments
Marouane Fellaini: the Belgian national player with Moroccan roots currently has a contract with English Premier League club Manchester United. Alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku he's one of the "Red Devils'" main hopes. But coach Marc Wilmots says his mission goes beyond the UEFA Cup: "All those players who live abroad don't come together for the money, but because they practise certain values: solidarity, honesty and respect"
Mesut Ozil: the 27-year-old has been playing for the English Premier League club Arsenal FC since 2013. Last weekend, he and the rest of the London team won the FA Cup for the second time since 2014. Ozil, who grew up as the son of Turkish parents in Gelsenkirchen, has been a member of the German national squad since 2009, current holders of the 2014 World Cup title. Ozil has played 64 internationals so far, scoring 18 times
Emre Can: the national player from Liverpool FC scooped the audience prize in the German Football Ambassador awards. He won the vote by a clear margin making him the successor to Mesut Ozil. Four Muslims play in the German national team: Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Emre Can and Shkodran Mustafi
Raheem Shaquille Sterling: the 21-year-old is an English-Jamaican soccer player. The winger is under contract with Manchester City and plays for the English national squad in midfield