Dig deeper into the world of football and you will discover a lot. Many international footballers aren’t native to the country they represent, some of which have extremely loose ties and choose their national side only to be in with a higher chance of playing international football. FIFA rules were altered in 2008 in order to help secure Sepp Blatter’s plan to reduce the number of foreign footballers playing abroad. Under these laws, uncapped footballers are allowed to switch allegiances after 5 years of being native to a country. You are also eligible to represent a country if a parent or grandparent was a native.
All very well it seems, I’m of the belief that your nationality lies with your place of birth. However, I can understand this clause. There is a major problem though; this rule is being exploited for the advantages of larger countries on the international stage. Leaving the smaller countries without what could be a historic player for them or that could bring them closer to the dream of playing in a international competition such as the World Cup or European Championships.
It doesn’t take long to find an example of this, Germany’s second all time goalscorer Miroslav Klose was born in Poland and was 7 when his family moved to Germany. He himself has said it’s better for him not to be called German or Polish, but European. Another example is his old Bayern Munich strike partner Lukas Podolski , although this is more understandable as he moved to Germany when he was 2.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here, they might both claim themselves to be German Nationals and yes, technically they are. The real issue is when a player is able to represent a country when he himself would not class himself as being of that nationality. Two examples of this are Manuel Almunia and Mikel Arteta, both Spanish footballers and both uncapped, due to how long they have lived in England for they are both eligible to represent the three lions. However, they themselves will never claim to be English.
This is not a new issue, Alfredo Di Stefano is classed as a legend of the game but did you know he represented 3 countries at the top level? He scored 6 goals in 6 games for his native Argentina between 1947 and 1949, following this came 4 appearances for Columbia, where he scored 0 goals. He gained Spanish citizenship while playing for Real Madrid and went on to score 23 goals in 31 games for Spain. Ridiculous isn’t it? Ok, the law has been cleared up since then meaning you can only represent 1 country at full level but this should never have been allowed to happen.
Owen Hargreaves was born in Canada and went on, as we know, to represent England. However, he also gained German citizenship while playing for Bayern Munich and was close to playing for Wales at U-21 level before pulling out at the last minute. Paulo Di Canio was also eligible to play for England. Ryan Giggs represented England at schoolboy level under the name Ryan Wilson, before opting for his country of birth. As he should.
Many, many footballers fall under this issue and there will be alot more in the future, unless the rules are altered. Zinedine Zidane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eduardo, Giuseppe Rossi. Have a look into the background of football and you will learn alot and begin to question the work of FIFA.
It needs a simple law to clear up and it won’t cause FIFA much hassle to organise. It begs the question, are FIFA ignoring the issue or are they under the influence of the bigger nations who benefit from these players?
Article courtesy of Josh Challies from This is Futbol