Soccer and Immigration

We are actually not taught not to think. Instead we are taught to think about everything narrowly, in specifics, in the exceptions, out of context.

In America, we are taught to think about immigration only in terms of Mexicans, which more and more people are doing in a positive way. For example, when massive workplace raids took place in Tennessee a few months ago in a county that went 80 per cent for Trump, local residents in a small town raised $60,000 in a week for the legal defense of those immigrants.

But America is also home to large and continuing immigrant streams of Poles, Koreans, Hmong, Irish, and so many more. The movement of people into and within America is only one part of a massive global exodus, where hundreds of millions of people are on the move, searching for a way to survive.

Immigrants are not “the other.” Immigrants are the new mainstream. Their fate is everyone’s fate.

Just one example of the situation:

Zlatan Ibrahmovic is one of the world’s great soccer players. His parents are Bosnian and Croat Muslims who moved to Sweden where Zlatan was born. He now plays now for the LA Galaxy. This was in the LA Times on Saturday:

“Zlatan Ibrahmovic will recieve an award Saturday at StubHub Center. Nothing unique about that. The Galaxy forward has almost as many plaques and trophies as he has goals, and he’s scored 501 of those.

“What makes this one a little different is the fact it’s coming from the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce.

“The son of immigrant parents from the Balkans, the Swedish-born Ibrahmovic has talked frequently about how he felt marginalized growing up in a housing project. He recently accused the Swedish media of  ‘undercover racism’ against him because he doesn’t have blond hair, blue eyes and a Swedish surname.

“As a result, he said, Saturday’s award carries extra meaning.

“‘This is me representing the new Sweden,’ he said after training Thursday. I have a different background but I’m Swedish. I represent Sweden wherever I go.”


Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. RRRC is now available for free by emailing Ballinger at: