The World Cup Finals in 2006 was full of teams drawn with their ethnic rivalries and their ethnic "cousins" in the Group stage. Of course, every WC finals has a few ethnic battle, but Germany 2006 had at least 10 pairings, creating many "derbies".
Group A: Germany, Poland, Costa Rica, Ecuador
1) Germany and Poland shared a border. A part of current Poland was once upon a time a part of Germany. Many German citizens are of Polish ancestry and vice versa. Poland played against Germany at the World cup Finals before, this edition is different. Two German players, namely Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, were born in Poland, and Tim Borowski is of Polish ancestry.
2) There are too many Latin American teams at every single World Cup Finals. So it isn't surprising that Costa Rica was drawn into the same group as another Latin American country, and vice verse.
Group B: England, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay
3) The United Kingdom has a huge colonial empire, but only three of the former colonies qualified for this WC Finals. T&T had the most UK-born players of the three. At least, three of T&T players were born in the UK. Shaka Hislop was one of them.
4) England was coached by Sven-Goran Ericsson, a Swede.
Group C: Holland, Ivory Coast, Argentina and Serbia Montenegro
This group is free of ethnic battle although both Holland and Ivory Coast are dressed in orange.
Group D: Portugal, Angola, Mexico and Iran
5) Portugal was the former master colonial master of Angola. Several of Angola's players were of Portuguese ancestry or grew up in Portugal. Except Brazil, Angola is the only former colony of Portugal at the tournament.
Group E: Italy, USA, Ghana and Czech Republic
6) Hollywood led us to believe that the United States is full of Italian-Americans, but their actual population is very small. We just watched too many movies starring Roberto de Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc. Bruce Arena, the coach of the USA, is an Italian-American.
|Hollywood's version of the United States|
Group F: Brazil, Croatia, Japan and Australia
7) The Croatian immigrants in Australia played a significant role in Australia's football history. Several of the Australian players are of Croatian background and three of Croatia's players were born in Australia. Mark Viduka, Josip Skoko, Ante Covic, Zeljko Kalac and Tony Popovic are of Croatian ancestry. Croatia's Josip Simunic who was sent off after picking three yellow cards from Graham Poll in that infamous incident was born in Australia.
|Martk Viduka is a son of Croatian immigrants.|
8) Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Japan included one naturalized Brazilian, Alex and Zico was the head coach of Japan.
Group G: France, Togo, South Korea and Switzerland
9) Togo was a former colony of France. France had three former colonies at Pot B. So the chance of drawing a former colony was high for them. Togo included four French-born players. Switzerland is partially French-speaking too, but this pairing was not too unusual so I do not list them as an "ethnic" game.
Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia
10) Saudi Arabia and Tunisia were the only two Arab nations at the WC Finals.
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.