Italy’s Prandelli hopes to change immigrant law
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli appealed for a law change that
would allow children of immigrants to play for the country’s
national teams before they turn 18.
That’s a chance that Mario Balotelli never had.
”Other nations are ahead of us in this department. I think and
hope that soon these new Italians will have a chance to gain
citizenship,” Prandelli said at the Foreign Press Association on
Under current law, children of legal immigrants born in Italy
can’t apply for citizenship until they turn 18. And FIFA rules
require that only citizens play for national teams.
Prandelli has followed players who have the skill level to be
called up to Italy’s youth squads but can’t be used because they
are not citizens.
”I’m not going to name anyone, because then tomorrow everyone
would go interview these two or three players,” Prandelli said.
”But there are some interesting players.”
Prandelli is not alone on this subject.
Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s first black Cabinet minister and head of
integration, has made changing the citizenship law her top
priority. Parliamentary committees are studying potential changes
to the law.
Kyenge has applauded the way Prandelli has integrated players
like Balotelli, who was born in Palermo to Ghanaian immigrants and
raised by an Italian adoptive family, and defender Angelo Ogbonna,
who was born in Cassino to Nigerian immigrants.
Neither Balotelli or Ogbonna was allowed to play for Italy’s
under-16 or under-18 squads.
”These kids are citizens. They live in the country and they
contribute to society,” Prandelli said. ”I think we could take a
big benefit from these new Italians. They bring different cultures
and experiences but they have the same spirit and feelings for the
nation as the rest of us.
”Balotelli feels 100 percent Italian,” Prandelli added.
Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampf