Hoilett's Tough National Team Trio Choice

David ‘Junior’ Hoilett has a hard decision to make choosing between Canada, England or Jamaica
by Henrik Lonne   |   Monday, August 06, 2012

David Junior Hoilett - Canada Men's National Team (CanMNT) & QPR forward

So finally David ‘Junior’ Hoilett got his club situation sorted with his transfer to Queens Park Rangers FC, and now many fans and observers of Canadian soccer are awaiting his decision on his international career. Hoilett has many options, but in the end the decision is up to him. His choice of which national team to play for will define his career and his brand as a player, as his decision will alienate some fans but attract others.

When taking a stance on Hoilett’s choice, it is important to remember that there are many perspectives to consider. First of all, he is more than a soccer player; he is – lest we forget – a human being with a personality, which has most likely been shaped by his growing up in Canada with a Jamaican father and his having spent several years in England. These three countries are likely to have had a significant impact on his identity. Each is important to him.

We must also remember that soccer players have a short career; few have an education and not all of them can or want to work in soccer afterwards. Players need to make choices that are right for them and their post-career lives.

Both as brands and as decent human beings, players should consider how they communicate their decision. That means that you should not do as Teal Bunbury and play for the US after saying it would be “wrong” for you to do so, or like Jonathan de Guzman and let your brother create the impression that you will be play for Canada but then turn the offer down while wearing a Canada jacket.

It is about respect and integrity. While it is very understandable that fans of the Canadian national teams are disappointed that players like Owen Hargreaves or Asmir Begovic do not want to play for Canada, it also has to be acknowledged that we live in an increasingly globalized world where people have more and more attachments to multiple countries, and that people have the right to do what they feel is best for them.

But if players want fans to respect their decisions, they also need to respect the fans. That means being as honest as possible about why you are making a decision. You must respect the passion fans have for the national team and the money they spend supporting it.

Hoilett should not wait for Canada to become more likely to qualify for the World Cup, as it would be disrespectful to the fans for him to send signals that he only wants to play for a nation if it is a World Cup country. This is, after all, supposed to be his team. Even if the international game is becoming more and more a career move than a personal issue of pride for players, it is still all about nationalistic pride for supporters.

Hoilett so far has shown respect to Canadian fans by not making any promises or gestures that he might later break, but at the same time, he’s running the risk of being seen as an opportunistic cynic if he does not make his decision soon. Should he decide to play for Jamaica or England, he is likely to face criticism from some Canadian fans. Some of it will be legitimate, and some not, but in that situation, he would deserve credit from fans for never leading them on or giving them false hope like the Jonathan de Guzmans and Teal Bunburys of the world.   

Canada is still awaiting a truly world class player to push them over the top as a constant World Cup country. Perhaps if Hoilett chooses Canada the next generation of Canadian players will view playing for their national team in a different way. Maybe then Canada will have the players to do what the US has done, which is start qualifying for every World Cup since 1990.

However, if Hoilett decides to play for Jamaica or England, Canada will still be the odd-man-out of the World Cup. Perhaps Canadian players will still have doubts about signing up with their home nation, and it will remain business as it has always been. That is a lot of weight for a 22-year-old.

It seems that a nation’s soccer aspirations are being laid on one person’s shoulders. And thus is the difficulty of David’s choice.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.