Friday, April 1, 2011

EXTRA TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu - Is FIFA shifting goalposts

Naturalisation is taking centre stage mostly in Europe but much to my surprise FIFA seems to be the catalyst on this deed.

If this trend is anything to go by, then there is certainly a method to ensure that you never hit a dry spell talent-wise because you can always import players you may need for particular positions.

Article 18 of FIFA’s Laws reads: Any player who is a naturalised citizen of a country by virtue of that country’s laws shall be eligible to play for that national or representative team of that country. FIFA does not care if a nation grants citizenship on basis of parentage, regardless of place of birth. If a player is deemed citizen under a particular country’s law, he is eligible to play for that country.

Players with dual nationality, who had already played for a country’s national team at junior levels were only allowed to switch loyalties until the age of 21. The age limit has been removed but players who have played for the senior national team are barred from switching.

Recently, Brazilian born Internationale Milan midfielder Thiago Motta fired in a winner for Italy’s European championships qualifier against Slovenia. With less than 5 years playing or living in Italy, Motta got the Italian citizenship because of his grandfather who was an Italian.

However, Motta’s case baffles in that he has 2 senior caps with Brazil. Having played for their U-17, he played for Brazil at the 2003 CONCACAF GOLD CUP. Due to the fact that the Selecao was participating in the FIFA Confederations Cup, Brazil sent an U-23 team to represent them at the GOLD CUP. Motta was part of that U-23 team that that played as a senior national team.

The Azzuri capitalised on Dunga’s reluctance to select Motta for Brazil and hooked him up. They probably dangled a sweet juicy carrot in front of him. Who knows? With the absence of Andrea Pirlo, Motta may form a formidable partnership with Danielle de Rossi in the engine room. Cesare Prandelli, the Azzuri coach recently said, “Motta has maintained the Brazilian technique and acquired a European mentality.

As to how Motta plays for Italy after playing for Brazil remains a puzzle that can only be solved by the Zurich based Sepp Blatter led federation.