Can Soccer Players Change National Teams?

Soccer players have long been able to switch national teams, but the rules governing this process have changed over time. According to FIFA regulations, a player must not have played in an official match for their first country and must receive approval from FIFA in order to switch national teams. Additionally, players over the age of 18 who have lived in a country for several years may be eligible to play on their national team. This has allowed players like Aloisio to switch to the Chinese national team after becoming naturalized citizens.

In some cases, a player may be eligible to play for more than one FIFA member federation, and Article 6 of FIFA's regulations comes into play. Recently, FIFA has added three new exceptions that allow a player to change their national team. Playing for your country remains the pinnacle for many soccer players, and the World Cup is still the most popular sporting event in the world. The eligibility rules allow players to change their loyalty to the national team only once, but the new rules allow the change to be overturned under certain circumstances.

Football fans are likely to see an increasing number of teams formed around diaspora players, similar to those from Morocco and Tunisia in recent years. The existence of players of various nationalities and the incentives for national teams to recruit the best players have resulted in an enormous variety of rules governing when and how an athlete can move from representing one country to another. This leaves a gap in which players under 23 would not be able to play for the national team. Monti is the only man who has played several World Cup finals for different national teams (he lost to Argentina but won with Italy).

The previous rules established that players who were not born in the territory and did not have parents or grandparents born in the territory of the country of which they are the nationality must have lived there continuously for at least five years after the age of 18 in order to be eligible for the national team. The proposal would prohibit the change of nationality for anyone who has played in a “final tournament” of the FIFA World Cup or in a final tournament of a federal competition.

Wanda Lobdell
Wanda Lobdell

Professional food expert. Total sushi scholar. Lifelong social media practitioner. Certified food buff. General pop culture fanatic.

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