Ghanaians are anxiously waiting to see an official communique from the Ghana Football Association (GFA) confirming that some top-performing Ghanaian players born abroad have completed their nationality switch to play for Ghana.
The players include Chelsea winger, Callum Hudson Odoi, Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah, Brighton and Hove Albion defender, Tariq Lamptey, and Athletic Club duo, Inaki Williams, and Nico Williams.
Reports suggest Odoi and Nketiah have secured their Ghanaian passports and therefore are close to completing their switch.
The excitement after every rumour regarding the aforementioned players being close to their switch shows Ghanaians cannot wait to see them dorn the Black Stars jersey.
People might think the FA is not putting in work enough to speed up the switch but the fact is that the process entails more than securing just a Ghanaian passport.
Probably, the FA started working on some of the players long before their names appeared in the news. If that is the case, then the process will be at the final stages.
It is significant to note the requirement needed to facilitate players with dual nationality, which is:
“A player who, under the terms of art. 5, is eligible to represent more than one association on account of his nationality, may play in an international match for one of these associations only if, in addition to having the relevant nationality, he fulfils at least one of the following conditions:
a) He was born on the territory of the relevant association;
b) His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant association;
c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant association;
d) He has lived continuously on the territory of the relevant association for at least two years.”
What is the process
Basically, there are 6 processes that the documentation goes through before the final decision.
The process includes,
1. Submission of a request by the new association
2. Review by the FIFA general secretariat,
3. Decision by the Players’ Status Committee,
4. Terms of the decision of the Players’ Status Committee
5. Grounds of the decision of the Players’ Status Committee
6. Appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport(CAS).
The process entails that the new association will send the document required for the switch for review on behalf of the player to the FIFA general secretariat.
The secretariat will hand it over to the Player Status Committee(PSC) for a decision after the review.
The PSC will then announce the decision, the announcement stage is referred to as the Terms of the decision.
There will be ten days given to contest the PSC’s decision which is termed as Grounds of the decision of the Players’ Status Committee. Failure to contest makes the decision final.
After ten days, the decision can be appealed at CAS within 21 days.
That being said, it must be noted that the process of a player who has played for one association and later requests a switch is different from a player who is yet to make a senior appearance for an association he has represented at the youth level or stayed at its territory between age 10 and 18 and now wants a switch.
The process for the former is way more simple in comparison but cannot be completed overnight.
FIFA has four situations of nationality switch but for the purpose of this article, only two will be looked at.
1. “For players that wish to change association after having already participated in an official competition at any level in any kind of football for another association”
2. “For players that have acquired a new nationality and moved to the relevant territory between the age of 10 and 18”
With these, we can group the Ghanaian players in question under the two categories.
Among the players in question, Eddie Nketiah, Tariq Lamptey, and Nico Williams are the players who are yet to make any senior appearance for the country they were born, thus England and Spain.
Callum Hudson Odoi and Inaki Williams will fall under the second category after appearing for England and Spain respectively.
In the case of Nketiah, Tariq, and Nico here are the requirement according to FIFA.
Documents required for players who are yet to make senior debut
FIFA’s regulatory body requires that an “Official document, issued by the association(s) for which the player would currently be eligible to play on the basis of their nationality, confirming that the player was never fielded in a match in an official competition at any level in any kind of football for said association(s)*”
Additionally, “the player holds the nationality of the country of the new association. This requires “Copy of the player’s valid passport (issued by the authorities of the country of the new association), duly indicating the player’s nationality and the period of validity of the passport.”
“The player’s biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant association,” which is a “Copy of the player’s biological mother’s or father’s passport or birth certificate, duly indicating her or his place of birth. and Documentation corroborating the player’s filiation with their biological mother or father (such has the player’s birth certificate).”
Or “The player’s grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant association. The player was fielded in a match in an official competition at any level (with the exception of “A” international level) in any kind of football for their current association.”
It is the responsibility of the FA to establish these facts and present these in a document to the FIFA general secretariat.
Therefore, the GFA has to make sure every bit of the document has been met before the submission because the omission of one could lead to a decline of the request.
Documents required for players who has played for one association but want to switch
Callum Hudon Odoi made three appearances for England while Inaki Williams made one appearance for Spain.
below the requirements for their switch
“The player holds the nationality of the country of the new association,” and also establishes that the player’s biological father, mother, or grandparents were born in the territory of the new association, in this case, Ghana.
Then presents documents that make the player eligible for the switch despite playing for the current association.
That is “the player holds the nationality of the country of the new association – Copy of the player’s valid passport (issued by the authorities of the country of the new association), duly indicating the player’s nationality and the period of validity of the passport.”
Then other facts follows:
1. “The player was fielded in a match in an official competition at “A” international level in any kind of football for their current association.
2. “At the time of being fielded for their last match in an official competition in any kind of football for their current association, they had not turned 21 years old.
3. “The player was fielded in no more than three matches at “A” international level in any kind of football for their current association, whether in an official competition or non-official competition.
4. “At least three years have passed since being fielded for their last match at “A” international level in any kind of football for their current association, whether in an official competition or non-official competition.
5. ” The player has never participated in any kind of football at “A” international level in the final tournament of the FIFA World Cup or a final tournament of a confederation competition.”
The said points require “Official statement issued by the player’s current association containing a list of all the matches (at any level in any kind of football) in which the player in question played for its representative teams*, duly indicating for each match:
– the date of the match;
– the age category and/or level of the representative team (e.g. youth team or
– the type (i.e. official or unofficial) and the name of the competition;
– the kind of football (e.g. 11-a-side, futsal or beach soccer).”
Therefore, in the case of Odoi, he played all three games for England below 21-years and he is eligible for a nationality switch. He, however, has to wait for three years before he can feature for Ghana.
The three years will be up in October 2022, since his debut was in October 2019.
For Inaki, if his nationality switch is complete, he can straight away play for Ghana because three years have passed since his Spain debut in 2014.