Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
A new phenomenon of ‘dipping a toe’ into the waters of international football is beginning to emerge, further devaluing the ultimate individual achievement in the game.
Rules on international eligibility have been watered down over the years but the changes could not have foreseen the growing global village, immigration and movement of people that is providing the game with a much more multi-cultured generation.
As a result we now have players who are able to ‘test drive’ the countries they are eligible to play for, before settling on a final choice.
It has all come about since the relaxing of the strict rules on international football in late 2003, when FIFA’s statutes changed to allow a player who had represented one country at junior level to choose to play for another country, as long as he was eligible for dual nationality, was under the age of 21 and had not played at full A international level.
If it hadn’t been for Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the 1-0 defeat to Argentina could have been much worse for the African side. That is one reason why the Nigerian supporter contingent, even if outnumbered by the Argentinian fans, remained upbeat throught the match.
The green-white-green stripes of the Nigerian flag were seen on toddlers, their parents and even foreigners at Ellis Park Stadium in central Johannesburg.
Being in Cabinda for the African Nations Cup should have been fun. At first, it was not, to say the least. The Togo team bus came under fire, with the assistant coach and a press officer being shot to death by a group of separatists as they were on their way to Cabinda from Pointe Noire, Congo.
It was only after long talks and multiple changes of minds that the Sparrowhawks decided to leave the Angolan northern enclave to fly back home and mourn their dead.
The decision by Nigeria to test their under-17 players to eliminate age cheats is the first step in ridding African soccer of a long-standing blight.
Nigeria Football Federation president Sani Lulu Abdallah has said this week his organisation will take the unprecedented step of measuring the bone density of players by use of an MRI scan, usually done around the wrist area, to approximate whether they are roughly the right age or not.