FIFA Closes Naturalisation Loophole (1 Viewer)

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Apr 22, 2003
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FIFA have moved to stop the practice of uncapped players giving up their nationality and signing up to represent national teams to which they have no clear connection.

After Werder Bremen's Brazilian striker Ailton revealed plans to play for Qatar, FIFA have closed the loophole which would have permitted such a move.

The president of world football's governing body, Sepp Blatter, was delighted with the decision by FIFA's emergency committee.

"Naturalisation that allows players with no obvious connection to the new country to play for that country's national teams is not the aim and object of the (FIFA) statutes," said Blatter.

"For that reason, we have to put an immediate stop to such practices. I will also bring this matter up at the Ordinary FIFA Congress in Paris on 20-21 May 2004 with the aim of amending our statutes accordingly.

"I am sure that our Congress will also support this point of view."

Under article 15, paragraph 1 of the FIFA regulations, players were until this ruling permitted to switch nationality if they had yet to play international football.

However, Ailton's announcement that he wanted to represent Qatar was deemed by FIFA as unreasonable, given that he had no obvious links to the country.

Fellow Brazilians Dede and Leandro, brothers who play for Borussia Dortmund, also expressed an interest in playing for the Persian Gulf state.

The Qatari football authorities were set to pay all three handsomely for pledging allegiance to them, and playing in their qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup finals.

However, FIFA now have tightened up their regulations and revealed that as from Wednesday, any player wishing to play for another national team to that which they are foremostly eligible must fulfil one of a series of conditions.

They would qualify by being born in the relevant country, or by either parent of grandparent being born there.

Residence would also be a factor, with players who have lived continuously for at least two years in the country being permitted to represent the national team.

There is no further flexibility in the FIFA guidelines, so the aspirations of Ailton, Dede and Leandro seem to have been dealt a terminal blow.

FIFA insist the decision is "final and legally valid".
 

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