FIFA does not ease allegiance rules

FIFA does not ease allegiance rules

Published Jun. 1, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

FIFA members rejected an attempt by the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to speed up allegiance changes by foreign-born players.

The UAE got only 42 votes at the FIFA Congress for its proposal to relax eligibility rules, and allow players aged over 18 to switch after three years' residence instead of five. Following FIFA advice, 153 countries voted against and 11 abstained.

''It seems we are playing with national identity which is the foundation of national teams,'' FIFA legal committee chairman Angel Maria Villar said before the poll.

UAE football president Mohamed al-Rumaithi had argued change was good for countries trying to qualify for the World Cup.


''Especially for countries which have a small population,'' Al-Rumaithi suggested. ''Along with local talents, we have many expatriate players.''

However, the proposal was interpreted as route for richer countries to import overseas players with offers of citizenship.

In 2008, FIFA increased the residency requirement to five years from two, which was seen a fast-track option.

Each vote at the Congress supported FIFA's official stance.

FIFA now has power to suspend a national association after a single violation of its statutes. The vote was 190-13 in favor of amending a rule which had insisted on repeated breaches before a ban could be imposed.

In addition, new rules were passed to control organization of international friendlies, for national and club teams, after a spate of match-fixing and betting scandals.

Franz Beckenbauer signed off his last day as a member of FIFA's 24-man ruling panel by criticizing European champion Barcelona players' ''unacceptable'' behavior in a bad-tempered Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid.

The German legend's comments came during an update on disciplinary issues from the Task Force Football 2014 panel which he will continue to chair over the next year.

Beckenbauer retired as a UEFA delegate to FIFA's high command for family reasons and was formally replaced by Germany FA president Theo Zwanziger.

Six new members of the FIFA board were installed.

Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan replaced one-time FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong-joon of South Korea as a vice president representing the Asian Football Confederation. Chung was made an honorary vice president of FIFA.

Sri Lanka's Vernon Manilal Fernando was elected in January to take the seat vacated by Japan's Junji Ogura who stepped down due to AFC age limit rules.

Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland took over taking the vice presidency reserved for British nations which was held by England's Geoff Thompson.

Algeria's Mohamed Raouraoua and Oceania president David Chung of Papua New Guinea were formally introduced after having joined the panel earlier this year.

''I've been well elected even though some don't like this,'' said Raouraoua, in an apparent reference to unproven claims that the Confederation of African Football poll was manipulated.

Raouraoua and Chung replaced Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti who were suspended by FIFA's ethics committee last November after an investigation into World Cup vote-buying allegations.