Ancestry keeps Italy in the World Cup

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A football fan reacts after watching Italy lose to Uruguay in the World Cup. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
12:03 CEST+02:00
Italy's national football team was booted out of the World Cup earlier this week, but the nation's ancestry is so far keeping the country on the pitch.

The Azzurri may have crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage, but some of their distant Italian relatives are still in the tournament.

According to data mapped by designer James Offer, three other World Cup teams have players with Italian heritage.

Brazil 2014: Visualising ancestral and international connections between teams. Image: James Offer

Rémy Cabella may be playing for France, for example, but his father hails from across the border in Italy. Although it may pain them to do so, Italians may do well to switch support to the neighbouring nation, which is currently top of Group E.

Tailing France is Switzerland, whose goalkeeper Diego Benaglio has Italian grandparents. The Swiss side may also attract other dejected fans, as its squad is the most international in the World Cup - with connections to 13 other countries.

Unfortunately, languishing at the bottom of Group B is the most Italian team outside of Italy: Australia. Three of the squad’s midfielders - Mark Bresciano, Massimo Luongo and James Troisi - have Italian fathers.

The Australian side comes second to Switzerland for its global heritage, well above Italy itself, which has connections to just three other countries.

Striker Mario Balotelli, born in Italy and raised by an Italian couple, has Ghanaian parents.

Thiago Motta moved to Italy at the age of 15 after starting life in Brazil; having Italian grandparents made him eligible for citizenship.

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A third Italian waited until his footballing career was off the ground before choosing to switch allegiances.

Buenos Aires-born Gabriel Paletta won the under-20s World Cup back in 2005 with Argentina, before tracing his grandfather’s nationality and joining the Italy side for the first time this year.

SEE ALSO: Italian of the week - the coach who took Italy to Brazil

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