Euro 2016: Eder makes the case for Italy's 'foreigners'

Sports Sunday 19/June/2016 13:59 PM
By: Times News Service
Euro 2016: Eder makes the case for Italy's 'foreigners'

Paris: Italy's Brazilian-born goalscorer Eder secured a 1-0 win over Sweden on Friday and raised once again a controversy that has afflicted the country's football for decades.
Ever since players of foreign descent were first chosen by the national team, there has been a debate about whether they should be.
While other countries have embraced anyone eligible under FIFA's nationality rules, some Italians remain opposed.
Even at this tournament there was criticism of coach Antonio Conte for selecting Friday's hero Eder as well as midfielder Thiago Motta, who was also born in Brazil.
Eder's own coach at Inter Milan, the revered Robert Mancini, was quoted as saying that so-called "oriundi" should not be selected because "the Italian national team should be Italian".
Eder responded on Friday that it was "a needless controversy" but agreed that "if you ask 10 people, five might say they are in favour and five against".
Under Mancini, he has often not been selected to start for Inter, but he never gave up hope of being chosen by Italy.
"When I didn't play so much for Inter, I trained and worked at home to make sure I was ready for the Euros," he said.
He took his goal superbly, prompting celebrations on and off the pitch that were wild enough to justify his claim that the Azzurri squad is one of the more united at the tournament.
They beat fancied Belgium 2-0 in their Group E opener.
"I'm happy for the entire squad because I know how much preparation and work has gone into the European Championship," he said.
"Even the guys on the bench are there with us. We all get on together and work together.
"Perhaps not everyone expected us to win the two games but through organisation, hard work and effort, we've been able to do it."
One of the reasons Conte was so satisfied at reaching the last 16 with a game to spare was being rewarded for his faith in Eder, who scored a similar late goal on his debut in a qualifier against Bulgaria 15 months ago when Italy were losing 2-1.
"It's not just Eder," Conte told the post-match news conference on Friday. "A number of players were questioned.
"Ultimately I pick players based on what I see with my eyes, regardless of who they play for or whether they're sympathetic to the public."
The hard-liners may find it difficult not to have some sympathy for Conte's approach if the 29-year-old Eder continues to come up with crucial late goals for his chosen country.