North Korea has decided to cock a snook at FIFA by submitting a 23-man squad three weeks before the deadline. Either they intend to submit an enlarged 30-man squad in early June or 23 really is all they have.
Australia has the most players currently plying their trade elsewhere. Of their 30, only Jason Culina plays back home (for Gold Coast United). Of course cynics might say Harry Kewell hasn’t plied a trade of any description, let alone football, since 2004.
Most of the French Handball team play club football at Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Arsenal and other French sides. Three of the squad play at Rennes, even though nobody outside Rennes has heard of Rennes.
New Zealand’s ranks include Kris Bright of Shrewsbury Town and two players who can’t even get a game at Shrewsbury Town and are therefore recorded as having “no club affiliation”.
The Dutch squad suggests a group of players who prefer the cold Northern European climate, something which could serve them well during South African winter nights: only three (Sneijder, van der Vaart and Huntelaar) out of 30 play outside the Netherlands, Germany or the UK.
England, Germany and Italy top the lists for the number of players who play in their respective domestic leagues. England has 30/30, Germany 26/27 and Italy 29/30.
The German exception is Chelsea’s Michael Ballack, and the Italian is Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal. Some might say we shouldn’t include Theo Walcott in England’s home-grown contingent, as he plays for renowned French keepy-uppy mob Arsenal.