I know pretty much nothing about football, but even I now know who Fabio Capello is. I obviously canít comment on his professional skills as a coach since I know nothing about that field (apologies for the pun). What I will say, though, is that I find it appalling that he leads the England team, yet clearly does not speak much English. Presumably, he is living here as well as working, in which case I firmly believe he should speak the country's language.
I saw him at a press conference on News 24 yesterday Ė not understanding some questions, and struggling to formulate responses. How does the man lead a team of people?
As a coach, there are surely resemblances with my line of work: setting out strategy, providing operational leadership, giving direction and management support to staff (or the England team in his case). For all of that, a good command of English is essential. I could not do my job as a leader if my level of English was as poor as what he displayed yesterday.
I, too, am a foreigner living and working in the UK. As in the case of Capello, English is not my first language, not even my second tongue, but I could not imagine living here without being reasonably capable to read and write English. I am well aware that despite some proficiency, I will never be as fluent and capable in English as I am in my mother tongue. That, by the way, frustrates me quite a bit, but it's a fact I will have to live with.
Evidently, a good level of English is essential for many jobs. But there is more: how can one properly integrate into another country and culture without speaking the language of the land to a suitable standard? I remember seeing years ago a documentary on television, talking about the societal problems caused by lack of integration. They showed people who had lived in the UK for 25 years and still didn't speak a word of English. As a consequence, these people lived in their own enclaves, unable to engage with their neighbourhood, their children's schools or most other socio-economic aspects of citizenship. That can never be a healthy situation and no doubt leads to community tensions.
Whether or not Capello should be fired for incompetence as an England coach, I do not know. But I would certainly fire him for being incapable, or unwilling, to speak the language of the country he lives in, and the people he has to lead. If you are supposed to be in a top job, earning a few million quid a year, speaking the language properly is surely not too much to ask.
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