This article needs additional citations for verification . (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A national sports team (commonly known as a national team or a national side) is a team that represents a nation, rather than a particular club or region, in an international sport.
The term is most commonly associated with team sports. However, it can be applied to groups of individuals representing a country where regular play is done by individuals, and individual scores are aggregated to a get a team result.[ clarification needed ]
National teams often compete at various levels and age groups, and have a number of different selection criteria. National teams are not always composed of the best available individual players.
National teams, like other sporting teams, are often grouped by sex, age or other criteria. The most prestigious national teams are often the senior men's and women's teams. However, they may not be the most popular or successful.
In most cases, a national sports team represents a single sovereign state. In several sports, the British Isles divides along internal boundaries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are represented by separate national teams, while in the Olympic Games they combine to form a Great Britain team. The Ireland national rugby union team represents the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in rugby union, and all-island teams are fielded in a number of other sports. Some Olympic teams represent dependent territories, including Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cook Islands. The Iroquois Nationals (men) and Haudenosaunee Nationals (women) lacrosse teams of the First Nations Lacrosse Association are the only teams representing any group of Indigenous people of the Americas that plays in an international level.
The popularity and notability of a national team depend on a number of factors.
Popularity of a national team also depends on the popularity of the sport in that country. In some countries a particular sport is very popular and may be a national sport. A national team may be popular even though the competition it competes in is not. For example, the Papua New Guinea national rugby league team is extremely popular because the sport is popular in the country, even though the highest competition it competes in - the Rugby League World Cup - is not. In that case, one can see that, even though the sport is popular in that country, the general level they are playing is not so high or lower than other countries that they want to compete with. For example, even if the Korean national handball league team is not so popular because handball is not a popular sport in Korea, they sometimes get gold medals in Olympics or World Cup Games. In this case, the game they participate in may become more popular and influence its popularity.
A particular sport in a country may be more popular among certain groups. For example, a women's team may be more popular than a men's team if there is a greater participation in the sport.
The popularity of the international competition that a team participates in has the biggest influence on the popularity of national sports team. There is a certain amount of prestige which is associated with competing on the "world stage".
Competitions with the most teams involved offer the most international competition and are often most popular. The most popular multi-sport international competitions that include team sports include the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games are relatively open for participation. Other competitions that are specific to sports, such as the FIFA World Cup (Association football), Rugby World Cup (rugby union) and Cricket World Cup (cricket) allow many countries to qualify. For instance, the popularity of the Socceroos is heightened during the FIFA World Cup simply due to participation in a global event.
However, how even the competition is also matters. Even if there are a large number of participants, if a handful of teams dominate or if many of the teams are from countries where the sport lack sufficient depth to field a quality side, then the overall competition will not be taken seriously.
Popularity of a national team can also be due to a team being successful even if the sport itself is not popular in a country.
In many countries, the national team is the highest level of play available and as a result, it is often most popular with fans and spectators from that country.
In other countries, domestic competitions may be more competitive and offer a higher standard of play and reward.
Depending on the sport, nation, and era in question, membership on the national team maybe earned through individual play (as is the case for an Olympic athletics team or a Davis Cup team), players may be selected by a managers and coaches appointed by a national sport association, or a team may have to win a national championship in order to receive the right to represent their nation (as in the World Curling Championships).
Various rules are used to determine who is eligible to play for which national team.
Under FIFA regulations, a player primarily qualifies for a national team by "holding a permanent nationality that is not dependent on residence in a certain country"—i.e., being a passport-carrying citizen of said country.
If a player's single nationality enables him or her to play for more than one FIFA member, any of the following will be sufficient to establish eligibility for a specific association under that nationality:
However, FIFA allows associations that share a common nationality to make an agreement among themselves, subject to FIFA approval, by which the residency criterion is deleted completely or amended to require a longer time limit.The most notable example of this situation is the United Kingdom, which has four national associations on its territory (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales).
Players become permanently tied to a national association, with one exception to be outlined below, once they play in "an official competition of any category or any type of football". This includes any competition for national teams governed by FIFA, including qualifying matches for said competitions; international friendlies cannot tie players to a country under any circumstances.
Players who have more than one nationality, regardless of the method of acquisition, have slightly different eligibility requirements from those who have a single nationality, whether or not it is shared by multiple associations. In addition to holding the relevant nationality, any of the following will qualify a player to appear for said country:
This last rule is intended to prevent associations from naturalising players who lack birth or familial ties in that country, and immediately fielding them in international matches. FIFA will issue waivers to this last requirement if an association can show to FIFA's satisfaction that the player had significant ties to that country prior to naturalisation. A recent example of such a waiver is that of Gedion Zelalem, a German-born player of Ethiopian descent who currently represents the U.S. at under-23 level. He emigrated with his father to the U.S. at age 9 in 2006, and left the country at age 16 to join Arsenal's youth academy. In 2014, he automatically became a U.S. citizen outside the normal naturalisation process when his father became a U.S. citizen, and the United States Soccer Federation applied for a waiver of the adult residency requirement, citing Zelalem's extended childhood residence in the U.S.He was approved to play for the U.S. several months later.
Separate from the above rules, a player who holds multiple nationalities may petition FIFA for a one-time change of nationality if he or she has never appeared in an official senior international match for any country, and holds the nationality of the second country prior to appearing for said country.The aforementioned Zelalem case falls within the scope of these rules, since he had played for Germany at youth level.
FIBA's national team eligibility rules are broadly similar to those of FIFA. Holding nationality is mandatory (but not sufficient) for eligibility to represent a country.Players with multiple nationalities may choose to play for of one of those countries at any age by making a written request to FIBA. However, if the player has yet to make a choice and one of those countries formally calls the player to international duty after he or she reaches age 18, that player is required to make a choice at that time. As in association football, playing in an international friendly cannot tie a player to any country; only participation in an official FIBA competition is sufficient for this purpose.
Unlike association football, FIBA does not have a "grandparent rule" for most players. The method by which a player obtains citizenship is irrelevant to national team eligibility, as long as it has been legally acquired. The only use of the grandparent rule is to determine a player's eligibility to represent the national team of a country's dependent territory, with two notable examples being those of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, both US insular areas with their own national federations, and whose native-born residents are US citizens by birth.
While the method by which a player becomes a citizen does not affect his or her eligibility for a national team, it can affect the player's ability to participate in a given FIBA competition. FIBA mandates that in official competitions, no national team can have more than one player on its roster who acquired citizenship by any means after reaching age 16. This also applies to individuals who had the right to a second nationality at birth (such as individuals born in Northern Ireland, who are generally born with UK citizenship but also have the right to citizenship in the Republic of Ireland from birth), but did not exercise that right until age 16 or later.
Unlike the situation in association football and basketball, in which holding nationality in a country is a requirement for representing that country, eligibility regulations in rugby union do not mention nationality at all. Players can qualify for a given country in one of four ways:
This does not prevent a national union from requiring that its representative players hold that country's nationality. For example, since December 2016, the French Rugby Federation has required French nationality as a precondition for national team selection, with players who had represented France before the policy change exempt from said requirement.
Normally, if a player has ever played for one national team then he or she may not play for the team of a different nation at same or at the next-higher level of seniority. However, the addition of rugby sevens to the Olympics created a loophole due to the IOC's different eligibility criteria. Players who have been "captured" by one country but hold the passport of another country can make a one-time change of allegiance to the second country under the following conditions:
As for the concept of "capturing"—i.e., being tied to a specific country—the criteria have evolved over the years. Under current World Rugby regulations, a player is captured once he or she plays for one of three specific teams:
Note that unlike association football or basketball, players can be captured by appearing in international friendlies, such as the traditional mid-year and end-of-year Tests.
However, capture only occurs when the opponent is also one of the above-mentioned sides. This can sometimes cause apparently counterintuitive results. For example, Mike Haley has represented England twice—first for England Saxons against South Africa A in 2016, and then for a non-capped England XV against the Barbarians in 2017. However, neither match tied him to England, and he remains eligible for selection to Ireland, for which he qualifies by ancestry. Even though the 2016 match involved two national "A" sides, it did not qualify to capture Haley (or any other player on either team who had not previously been captured) because at the time, South Africa's designated "next senior" side was its U-20 national team. As for the 2017 match, WR classifies the Barbarians as a club team, putting them outside the scope of this regulation.
Various controversies have involved the participation of players whose eligibility has been challenged. One famous example was Grannygate. More recently, questions have been raised about the eligibility of two players who participated in the European qualifying process for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, one for Belgium and the other for Romania.
In some national teams representatives play for the love of their sport and country. However, in others, individual players are paid to represent their country.
In some cases, players are either deliberately excluded or choose not to represent their national team on the basis of not being remunerated. This can affect the relative performance of a team. For instance, after allowing professional players, the USA men's national basketball team dramatically jumped up the world rankings.
In other cases, players may be contracted to a club, at home or abroad. As a result, their primary loyalty may be to their club rather than their country, especially if the competition that the national team is playing in does not offer the same prestige.
Eastern bloc countries were notorious for skirting the edge of the rules by having state-sponsored "full-time amateurs". Their Olympic athletes were given everything they needed to live and train, but were not technically paid to do it, and all the money came from the government.