When Kevin-Prince Boateng stepped out onto the field at the 2010 football world cup, he was standing alongside his brother, Jerome Boateng. This wasn’t the first time that two brothers had played together in the same football match, but it was the first time in history both brothers faced each other—playing for opposing countries.
The 3 brothers Kevin-Prince, Jerome, and George Boateng, were born to a Ghanaian father and grew up in Berlin, Germany. George and Kevin-Prince were raised by their mother in Wedding, one of the city’s poorer areas, and Jerome by the boys’ father (to a different mother) in a more affluent area. Although they lived apart, the three brothers were close and continued to play football together.
Kevin-Prince started his international career by playing for the German youth teams, progressing quickly to the U-21s, even though he always considered himself more Ghanaian. When Ghana did call him up for the 2006 World Cup, FIFA rules deemed him ineligible to play for Ghana. In 2009 however, the rules changed, allowing Kevin-Prince to be able to file a one-time switch to join Ghana.
Jerome has stuck with Germany and has been the most successful of the trio, with five Bundesliga titles, three DFB Cups, the UEFA Champions League, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was also victorious over his brother in that history making 2010 world cup match, with Germany edging out Ghana 1-0.
The Boateng brothers, born Germans, show a strong connection to their roots through tattoos. Jerome’s upper left arm displays an outline of Africa with the word GHANA boldly written inside, and his lower right arm has his Ghanaian name ‘Agyenim’ tattooed on it.
Football is the beautiful game, because its beauty transcends cultures. That the Boateng’s could show their love for their respective cultures through representing them in sports, shows how sports can bind cultures together, and help people rediscover their identity.
How has football (or sport) played a role in helping you cut across cultures?
This piece shows how Kevin-Prince made the career switch from his country of birth, to his father’s country of birth.
This piece shows how the Boateng brothers have paved their different career paths, whilst remaining true to each other, and their Ghanaian-German heritage.