Whenever a star player becomes a naturalized citizen of another country in other to play in major international championships, it is always a topic of deep controversy. For every supporter of the act, there will always be people who are vehemently opposed to it. When the player in question is the best one in the world, things can get even feistier. However, Wilfredo Leon’s integration into the Polish team seems to be as fair of a case of integration than any other.
First, Leon gained his citizenship through marriage, and not some lucrative contract offer. He is now even the father to a Polish daughter and speaks almost fluent Polish. He has also lived in the country for quite some time and is everyday more in tune with its culture. In addition, recent polls have shown that 90% of Polish fans want Leon in the team, so it’s safe to say he enjoys public support.
Second, Poland defended its WCH title with only 5 players that were present in its 2014 gold medal roster. The basic truth is that the Polish team has showed that it can manage just fine without Leon, and it has done so with homegrown talent. It would be crazy for anyone to state that the Polish volleyball federation, the current 2x world champions, is being opportunistic in his integration. Even if one would use this fact to say that Poland has enough talent, what does this have to do with the matter in hand?
When all is said and done, everyone has to admit that Poland never planned for this to happen, it never offered Leon a waterfall of cash into his pocket for him to join the Polish squad. The team simply won the volleyball lottery the day the talented Cuban player met his Polish wife, Małgorzata Leon. The richer just got richer and the rest of the world volleyball community will just have to deal with it.
View this post on Instagram
Drodzy Kibice, Dzisiaj dostałem oficjalną wiadomość, że Światowa Federacja Siatkówki zarejestrowała mnie jako polskiego zawodnika. Chcę podziękować za wsparcie, które od Was dostaję. Szczególnie pomogli mi: – Pan Mirosław Przedpełski w kontaktach z FIVB, – Pan Paweł Mirek Wachowiak w sprawach administracyjnych, – PZPS z Prezesem Jackiem Kasprzykiem na czele w kwestiach finansowych, – Pan Tomasz Dauerman w kwestiach prawnych, – Pan Andrzej Grzyb w kwestiach merytorycznych. Jestem gotowy do gry w Reprezentacji Polski. Mam nadzieję, że nastąpi to w jak najbliższym czasie. Do zobaczenia na meczu biało-czerwonych! Wilfredo Leon Venero