by Riccardo Schiroli, as comment to an article by Pim Van Nes from last Thursday
I was hurt by the remark of Pim Van Nes on this web site on the composition of Team Italy’s roster in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Because what the Italian team did in the 2009 World Baseball Classic deserves respect, because the Italian Federation participated in the World Baseball Classic following the rules. And also because Pim Van Nes is Dutch and I found it pretty weird that someone who takes The Netherlands as an example (on the baseball field, they indeed were, but this is not the subject of what I am writing) could criticize Italy for having most of the players on the roster born outside Italy.
If I don’t count wrong, The Netherlands had 12 players on the roster born outside the country: Markwell, Neuman, Jansen, Schoop, Adriana, De Caster, Simon, Engelhardt and Curt Smith born in the Netherland Antilles; Ponson and Kingsale born in Aruba and Boyd born in Canada.
The Netherland Antilles and Aruba are countries part of the so called Kingdom of the Netherlands (that is, according to Wikipedia: “an association with Federal characteristics which consists of 3 countries: the Netherlands in western Europe, the Netherland Antilles and Aruba” and exists since 1954) and have their own Olympic Committee and their own Baseball Federation (both participated in the IBAF World Cup Qualifier and actually the Antilles made it to the tournament).
To be more accurate, we should also mention the fact that the Netherland Antilles should soon dissolve. Curaçao, for instance, has voted a referendum exactly 4 years ago about the possibility of having stronger ties with the Netherlands or a Status Aparte in the Kingdom. Only 23% of the population voted for ‘stronger ties’ and Curaçao is supposed to become and independent country inside The Kingdom in the same way Aruba is since 1986.
Nowadays, the only islands of the Antilles that are Dutch municipalities are Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. And not everybody in Holland is happy about that. Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom was quoted saying that Holland should send them as a present to Hugo Chavez, who indeed has claimed them for Venezuela since 2006: “Tie a nice bow around the islands and good bye!”
It is clear that players born in Curaçao or Aruba (these countries are not part of the European Union) are foreigners to Holland, unless they have the right to a Dutch passport through their family history. Exactly like the Italian Americans who represent Italy.
I do not doubt that the players who represent The Netherlands in international baseball are perfectly entitled to do so. I know they are. Exactly as the players who represent Italy are perfectly entitled to do so.
In both countries actually citizenship is not given because of the place of birth but through the citizenship of one of the parents.
It may be interesting to notice that The Netherland Antilles would have been a really competitive team, with players such as Adriana, De Caster or Simon on the roster. But since these players represented The Netherlands, they won’t be able to have them in the 2009 World Cup.