Germany's 'Melting Pot' World Cup Team With Germany set to play Spain in the semifinals Wednesday, Mary Louise Kelly speaks with German MP Ozcan Mutlu about the multinational makeup of the nation's soccer team. Mutlu, who is of Turkish origin, says he loves the integrated team and its German-Turk star.
NPR logo

Germany's 'Melting Pot' World Cup Team

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128352499/128352509" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Germany's 'Melting Pot' World Cup Team

Germany's 'Melting Pot' World Cup Team

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128352499/128352509" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

Good morning.

OZCAN MUTLU: Good morning.

LOUISE KELLY: Let me ask you about this. I'm told that about half of the German team have diverse backgrounds; that they were either born abroad or have dual citizenship; that a number of them could actually be playing in the World Cup for another country. Is that right?

MUTLU: And late, but not too late, the German Football Federation realized that there are so many wonderful players with non-German background, and instead of giving them away for teams like Turkey or Spain, or whatever, they asked them to play for Germany - and this is very, very important signal.

LOUISE KELLY: I understand one of the big stars of the team is player of Turkish origin, born in Germany but of Turkish origin. And he was the real star of the first round of the tournament. Tell us about him.

MUTLU: Mesut Ozil is just a genius. This guy is already a national hero, not only in Germany, also in Turkey. And many, many Turkish people who live in Berlin and in Germany for decades already, who never felt home, now starting to feel home. Because this guy is playing for Germany and they do identify themselves with the German National Team, waving the German flag.

LOUISE KELLY: And I understand you're of Turkish origin, as well. You must be feeling some national pride for two countries today.

MUTLU: Yeah, I do. But I'm mainly German. So therefore, my main focus is today, we have to win. And if Mesut, today, scores some goals it would be great, because we do need such very important symbolic signals to say, look, we are a very diverse country. We have a very diverse team and we all are together, and we can win together.

LOUISE KELLY: Well, I was going to ask, has there been much criticism in Germany, people who feel that this team is made up of too many foreigners, as they would put it.

MUTLU: You will always have such idiots who are not willing to accept the reality, the diversity. But the majority in Germany is very happy about this great team and so I am. But there will be, always, a group, a small group, of right wing, or right extremist people - you never will get them. This will always be a problem in Germany.

LOUISE KELLY: That's German MP Ozcan Mutlu who joined us from a café in Berlin, where he's gearing up for the big game today.

MUTLU: Thank you very much. And I will - I have to admit that I'm very sorry that U.S. team didn't do so far. But I'm quite sure the U.S. team has future. These guys going to be a big surprise at the next tournament.

LOUISE KELLY: Yeah, well we hope so. Thank you for the condolences.

MUTLU: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.