FIFA Executive Committee drop player eligibility proposal

It’s tucked away at the end of the official FIFA statement and, given the previous reaction to the suggested changes, the IFA’s response in this BBC report, claiming victory in the eligibility row and “interpreting [it] as Fifa abandoning a proposal to allow Northern Ireland-born players to play the Republic of Ireland”, is probably correct – at least in an ‘as of right’ sense.

– The Executive Committee decided to leave the current regulations regarding the eligibility of players to represent association teams unchanged.

The BBC report also notes the FAI reaction

When contacted on Saturday evening, an FAI spokesman said that the Republic of Ireland’s association would “study the ruling before making any comment”. However, the FAI has consistently argued that Fifa rules does give them the right to field Northern Ireland-born players.

Back to square one then? Adds In the comments zone, oneill points to the FAI statement Updated Current relevant Statute added below the fold. And The latest BBC report quotes FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren – “We have submitted all kind of proposals and had all kinds of meetings to discuss the matter at length with both associations (and) come to the conclusion that none of the proposals that Fifa had submitted was accepted by either party.”

An FAI spokesman said: “In October 2006, FIFA’s Legal Department ruled that players born in Northern Ireland are entitled to play for the Republic of Ireland if they choose. Following today’s Executive Committee meeting, senior FIFA sources have confirmed to us that the status quo remains and the FAI may continue to select players born in Northern Ireland who declare that they wish to play for the Republic of Ireland.”

Update From the current FIFA Statutes [pdf file]

[Added emphasis throughout]

Article 15 Principle

1 Any person holding the nationality of a country is eligible to play for the representative teams of the Association of that country. The Executive Committee shall decide on the conditions of eligibility for any Player who has not played international football in accordance with par. 2 below, and either acquires a new nationality or is eligible to play for the teams of more than one Association due to his nationality.

2 With the exception of the conditions specified in par. 3 and 4 below, any Player who has already represented one Association in a match (either in full or in part) in an official competition of any category or any type of football may not play an international match for a representative team of another Association.

3 If a Player has more than one nationality, or if a Player acquires a new nationality, or if a Player is eligible to play for several Associations’ teams due to nationality, he may, up to his 21st birthday, request to change the Association for which he is eligible to play international matches to the Association of another country of which he holds nationality, subject to the following conditions:

(a) He has not played a match (either in full or in part) at “A” international level for his current Association, and if at the time of his first full or partial appearance in an international match in an official competition for his current Association, he already had the nationality of the Association’s team for which he wishes to play.
(b) He is not permitted to play for his new Association in any competition in which he has already played for his previous Association. A player may exercise this right only once.

4 If a Player who has been fielded by his Association in an international match in accordance with par. 2 above permanently loses the nationality of that country without his consent or against his will due to a decision by a government authority, he may request permission to play for another Association whose nationality he already has or has acquired.

5 Any Player who has the right to change Associations in accordance with par. 3 and 4 above shall submit a written, substantiated request to the FIFA general secretariat. The Players’ Status Committee shall decide on the request. The procedure will be in accordance with the Rules Governing the Procedures of the Players’ Status Committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber. Once the player has filed his request, he is not eligible to play for any Association team until his request has been processed.

Additionally, in 2004, the FIFA Emergency Committee released a circular letter which stated [pdf file]

1. Any player who refers to the first sentence of article 15, paragraph 1 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes to assume a new nationality shall only be eligible to play for the new national team if he fulfills one of the follwing conditions:

a) The player was born on the territory of the relevant Association.

b) His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant Association.

c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant Association.

d) He has lived continuously for at least two years on the territory of the relevant Association.

I’m not sure if that clarifies things or not..

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