Sunday, July 11, 2010

There are Asians in the World Cup Final!

Football fans know that it will be a long, long time before an Asian nation gets a chance to play in a World Cup Final, let alone win the thing. Korea, Japan and the others are chugging along nicely but are unlikely to threaten the sport's major powers in the near future.

But in the mean-time, Asian sports fans looking for heroes can take some comfort in knowing that there is some Asian representation on both teams playing tonight.

Spain has one player with Asian heritage in its squad - tricky winger David Silva, whose mother is Asian. A lot of folks seem to think she is Korean, but as far as I understand it she is Filipino (which would make sense given the Spanish-Filipino connection).

The Netherlands, on the other hand, has at least one player with an Asian background. Not only that, but it is the team captain - left-back Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, who is of mixed Dutch and Moluccan (Indonesian) heritage. Striker Robin Van Persie and defender John Heitinga also have some Indonesian heritage apparently, although my sources might be misleading. I've heard also that defender Gregory van der Wiel and midfielder Demy de Zeeuw are of Indonesian descent, but I'm a bit sceptical about this; I suspect their non-European ancestry comes from the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean.

Van Bronckhorst, who is retiring after this tournament, also had the honour of scoring perhaps the greatest goal of this World Cup, with this long-range screamer against Uruguay:

As for me, I'm rooting for the Oranje; aside from the Indo connection, I've been a longtime admirer of the Dutch national team, as well as having numerous Dutch-Indonesian relatives myself. However I suspect the Spanish might just get there in the end; particularly as Paul the Octopus has selected the Spaniards for victory, and you can't go against the octopus.

See also:

Dutch-Indonesian footballers

The Surinamese footballing diaspora

Condom sales spike in Korea after World Cup win


  1. David Silva is of Korean descent according to the BBC, Marca and ESPN. Makes sense since back in the 60s most Asians in the Canary Islands were Koreans and Japanese, surprisingly.