Interesting news from FIFA this week that the Scottish Football Association's proposal (backed by the Welsh FA) to allow anyone who has at least 5 years of schooling in a particular country in Britain the opportunity to play for said country, regardless of where they were born, has been ratified.
It means that Andrew Driver of Hearts - an England Under-21 international - could be called up to represent Scotland. He was schooled in Scotland - and played schoolboy international football for Scotland - but previously did not qualify to play internationals for us because neither he, his parents nor his grandparents were born here. At 21, he's been smart enough to say that he wouldn't make any decisions as to whether he would accept any invitation to play for Scotland until an invitation has actually been extended.
Interestingly though, Driver - should he be asked to play for Scotland - would not be the first to be called up under this new rule. Celtic's 14 year old Islam Feruz has been selected for Scotland's Under 17 side. And his story is, I think, part of the reason for the rule change. Islam is Somali-born, and his family moved to Scotland 7 years ago. He has grown up (well, as grown up as you are at 14) in Glasgow and still attends Hillhead High. He reckons in the past 7 years he has been made to feel welcome in Scotland and that it is his home - and he'll be proud to wear the shirt.
The whole thing raises an interesting question regarding nationalities - yes, that old chestnut. There are, obviously, some traditionalists who are dead-set against it, arguing that you are only Scottish if you are born here. That, I guess, is an old-fashioned argument, and does not take account of modern developments in society. It also, I guess, borders on xenophobic (though maybe just borders on it - I'm not accusing ex-Scotland internationalists and managers of that) in the sense that it excludes people from representing Scotland based on their place of birth. However, that is how international football works, so I guess it isn't quite as racist as it sounds!
The point I would make is that nations are no longer - if they ever were - single nationalities. Modern Scotland is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic place. Some have moved here to escape hardship in their country of birth, others have simply thought of Scotland as a place to settle. Their intention though (for the most part) is to contribute to this society, to this nation. Whether they are born in England and have relocated to Scotland through their parents' jobs (in Driver's case) or escaped a war-torn state to start a new life here (in Feruz's) the response should be no different. They contribute to Scottish society and have lived here long enough that they "feel" Scottish. If these guys see themselves as Scottish, and want to represent Scotland, then I don't have a problem with it.
I mean, its not as if we can claim they are glory-hunters, is it?