Switching nations: why FIFA’s definition of ‘nationality’ is inflicting confusion


Printed 27 January 2020
By: Jonathan Collins


In 2004, FIFA launched a mechanism to provide gamers with multiple nationality the one-off alternative to vary the affiliation they formally symbolize in aggressive worldwide matches. The mechanism aimed to help gamers who had represented one affiliation at ‘junior’ stage (or in non-competitive video games) however wished to symbolize a special affiliation at aggressive ‘A’ worldwide stage.

Nevertheless, the mechanism (discovered at Article 8, FIFA Statutes) has given rise to an issue.  That drawback is the exact definition (for FIFA’s functions) of ‘nationality’.  It issues as a result of it may be a vital in figuring out whether or not or not a participant can symbolize a special affiliation.  Sadly, there isn’t any exact definition of ‘nationality’ within the FIFA Statues.  And the FIFA Gamers Standing Committee (the Committee), who’re answerable for ruling on instances, have seemingly interpreted the matter in several methods, shifting from a broader strategy to a stricter one. 

As an example the purpose, this text compares the instances of Emerson and Roman Neustädter to that of Ryan Johansson, who was not too long ago denied the appropriate to switch his sporting nationality from Luxembourg to Eire.  Particularly, we look at:

  • Article Eight of the FIFA Statutes (and the place the issue lies)
  • FIFA’s interpretation of “nationality” within the instances of:
    • Emerson and Roman Neustädter; and
    • Ryan Johansson
  • Potential penalties for:
    • Gamers claiming sporting nationality based mostly on ancestry;
    • International locations that don’t allow twin nationality;
  • How may issues be improved?


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Jonathan Collins

Jonathan Collins

Senior Affiliate, PwC Authorized

Jonathan is an Irish solicitor and Senior Affiliate at PwC Authorized Luxembourg. Jonathan has represented Munster at Youth stage, and is principally concerned about rugby union and soccer.

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