REQUIREMENTS AND FIFA RULES
EXCERPTS ON THE ELIGIBILITY TO PLAY FOR ASSOCIATION TEAMS
Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes
Standing Orders of the Congress
VII. Eligibility to play for Association teams
Article 15 | PRINCIPLE | Dated: 19.10.2003
Any person holding the nationality of a country is eligible to play for the representative teams of the Association of his country. The Executive Committee shall decide on the conditions of eligibility for any Player who assumes a new nationality and for whom par. 3 of this article does not apply, or for any Player who would, in principle, be eligible to play for the teams of more than one Association due to his nationality.
As a general rule, any Player who has already represented one Association (either in full or in part) in an official competition of any category may not play an international match with another Association team.
If a Player has more than one nationality, or if a Player acquires a new nationality, or if the Player is eligible to play for several Association teams due to his nationality, the following exceptions apply:
(a) Up to his 21st birthday, a player may only once request changing the Association for which he is eligible to play international matches. A Player may exercise this right to change Associations only if he has not played 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 of any other category, he already had such nationalities. Changing Associations is not permitted during the preliminary competition of a FIFA competition, continental championship or Olympic Tournaments if a player has already been fielded in a match of one of these competitions.
(b) Any Player who has already acquired eligibility to play for one Association but has another nationality imposed upon him by a government authority, is also entitled to change associations. This provision is not subject to any age limits.
Any Player who wishes to exercise this right to change Associations shall submit a written and substantiated request to the FIFA general secretariat. After submitting the request, the Player is no longer qualified to play for his current Association’s team. The Players’ Status Committee shall decide on the request. The committee’s decision may be brought before the Appeal Committee. The Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players contain more detailed provisions.
Any Players who have already had their 21st birthday at the time of implementation of these provisions and who fulfil the requirements in par. 3 (a) are also entitled to submit such a request to change Associations. This entitlement will expire definitively twelve months after implementation of this provision.
These Standing Orders of the Congress were adopted by the Extraordinary Congress in Doha on 19 October 2003 and will come into force on 1 January 2004.
CONDITIONS TO ARTICLE 15
The first sentence of article 15 par. 1 of Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes stipulates that any person holding the nationality of a country is eligible to play for that country's national team. From a strictly legal point of view, this means that if a player has never played for a national team, he may assume another nationality and play for the national team of the new country, irrespective of his age.
However, this basic provision does not expressly provide for players being able to play, without any impediment, for another national team for no obvious reason. If a player changes his nationality or if he accepts another nationality simply in order to play for the new national team, he is clearly breaching article 2(e) of the FIFA Statutes, unless he meets the conditions given below.
The conditions ensure that a player has a clear connection with the relevant country, and as a result, to the Association in question. On 4 December 2003, the FIFA Executive Committee approved the conditions in the special regulations governing eligibilty to play for national teams (players theoretically eligible to play for several national teams on account of their nationality).
In accordance with article 33, paragraph 1 of the FIFA Statutes, the Emergency Committee deal with all matters requiring immediate settlement between two meetings of the Executive Committee. Therefore, and having examined the facts of the matter at hand, on 16 March 2004, the FIFA Emergency Committee ruled as follows:
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 fulfils one of the following 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.
2) The decision outlined in point 1 above enters into force immediately and is final (cf. article 33, paragraph 3 of the FIFA Statutes).
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS BY FIFA
At its meeting in Zurich on 30 October 2003, the FIFA Players' Status Committee discussed the practical repercussions of this amendment. During these discussions, the committee drew up the following list of documents to be submitted with every request to change the association:
• A certificate issued by the relevant authorities (e.g. copy of the existing passport or a document of a similar nature), which
a) conclusively verifies that the player has the given nationalities, and
b) confirms the date on which the player obtained those nationalities.
• An official list issued by the association that the player no longer wishes to represent of all the matches (in all categories) in which he represented that association until the date which he submitted his request to change association.
• A written request signed by the player explaining the motives for his change of association.