When Jerome Boateng and Kevin-Prince Boateng stepped out on the field in the 2010 World Cup, they weren’t the first set of brothers to take the field together. But, there was something different about this instance. On June 23, 2010, when Germany took on Ghana in that Group D match, two Boateng brothers were on the field. The difference between that day and other days is that, for the first time in World Cup history, the two brothers were representing opposite teams.
Kevin-Prince Boateng was born on March 6, 1987 in West Berlin, Germany to a German mother and Ghanaian father. On September 6, 1988, Jerome Boateng was born, also in West Berlin, to another German mother and the same father as Kevin-Prince. The paternal half-brothers both grew up close to each other and each got their soccer start in the German youth system.
Kevin-Prince started his international by playing for the German youth teams, progressing all the way up to the U-21s. Still, he always considered himself more Ghanaian, and Ghana tried to call him up for the 2006 World Cup. However, due to complications with receiving a passport and with the current one-switch rules not in place at the time, he was ruled ineligible to play for Ghana in 2006. In 2009, the rules changed allowing Kevin-Prince to be able to file a one-time switch to join Ghana. Just before the 2010 World Cup, he received a Ghanaian passport, making him eligible to represent that country in South Africa. He filed the one-time FIFA switch just before the tournament began.
Jerome Boateng also progressed through the Germany youth national teams and eventually joined the senior national team in 2009. Even though he became the first German to ever get red-carded in his debut, he quickly became a regular on the national team, and made the final 23-man roster for Germany for the 2010 World Cup. He has never been to Ghana, so it was not on his radar to play for Ghana.
Even though the half brothers were set to play for opposite teams in the World Cup, they were very close and constantly kept in contact and even trained together in the offseason. However, just before the 2010 World Cup, a strain hit their relationship when Kevin-Prince injured then-Germany captain Michael Ballack in the 2010 FA Cup Final:
That injury kept Michael Ballack out of the World Cup, and Jerome held his half brother responsible, refusing to speak to him in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Still, the World Cup began with Germany and Ghana in opposite groups. They would eventually meet in that 2010 World Cup group stage match on June 23rd in Johannesburg, with both Boatengs in the starting lineup for their respective teams. It was the first time ever that two brothers had taken the field on opposite ends of an international match at the same time.
Germany beat Ghana 1-0, eventually advancing to the semifinals of that tournament. Ghana’s quarterfinal run was one of the most successful runs ever by an African team in the World Cup. Jerome and Kevin-Prince eventually made up as well. In 2014, Germany and Ghana were placed into the same group for the World Cup, along with the United States and Portugal. On June 21, 2014, the Boateng brothers once again faced each other in a World Cup. This time, the teams drew 2-2.
Jerome Boateng and Kevin-Prince Boateng will always be brothers, and they will always be linked. Still, they will always have that historic moment in Johannesburg where they lined up on opposite sides of the field in a World Cup knockout stage match, a date where the Boateng brotherhood was divided. This will occur more and more as brothers (and sisters) who are dual nationals decide to represent different nations. The Boateng Brothers have laid the blueprint on how to represent your nation on the field while still maintaining that bond off the field.