Football’s governing body FIFA is planning to relax the eligibility criteria for national teams and allow a player who has already played competitively for another country change nationality under some conditions.
It is still a proposal but it could be approved by 211 national federations at the next FIFA congress on September 18.
At present, a player who has played a competitive match for a senior national team, even for one second, is no longer eligible for another country. Under the new proposal, a player could request for a change of nationality if he has played less than three games for his first national team before the age of 21 but would have to wait for at least three years without being called up before requesting for a change of association.
However, the change would be impossible if the player was involved in the FIFA World Cup, European Nations Championship or Africa Cup of Nations. The likes of Chelsea’s Ross Barkley and Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli remain ineligible to feature for the Super Eagles because they have World Cup appearances under their belts for their country of birth, England.
Before they became cap-tied to the Three Lions, Barkley qualified to represent the Super Eagles through his Nigerian father, Peter Effanga and Dele also has a Nigerian dad, Kehinde Alli.
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba has over 70 caps for Austria and has represented the country at the Euros so does not meet the criteria to change nationality, and the same applies to Borrussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji, one of the young stars of the 2018 World Cup.
Based on the proposed new rule, Red Bull Salzburg’s Noah Okafor (20 years) and Southampton’s Michael Obafemi (20 years) who have one cap each for Switzerland and Republic of Ireland respectively would be allowed to switch nationalities if they are snubbed for selection in the next three years.