FIFA rejects Munir El Haddadi bid to switch to Morocco from Spain

FIFA has rejected a request from the Moroccan soccer federation to let Munir El Haddadi change nationality from Spain despite easing its eligibility rules last month. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 08 October 2020

FIFA rejects Munir El Haddadi bid to switch to Morocco from Spain

  • Two years ago, FIFA’s rules bound El Haddadi to Spain because he had played a single competitive game for the senior national team

GENEVA: FIFA has rejected a request from the Moroccan soccer federation to let Munir El Haddadi change nationality from Spain despite easing its eligibility rules last month.
The decision can be challenged by Morocco and the player at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, soccer’s world governing body said Thursday.
Any appeal would be the second for Morocco and El Haddadi against FIFA at sport’s highest court. They lost a previous ruling weeks before the 2018 World Cup — a case that was a factor in FIFA revisiting its national eligibility rules for players.
Two years ago, FIFA’s rules bound El Haddadi to Spain because he had played a single competitive game for the senior national team. As a 19-year-old Barcelona player in 2014, he was a late substitute in a European Championship qualifying game.
FIFA’s member federations voted last month for relaxed rules to help players with multiple nationalities switch allegiance. El Haddadi was born in Spain and has Moroccan family ties.
The conditions include that: a player appeared no more than three times for a senior national team; none of those games was at a major tournament; at least three years have passed since playing for the senior national team; the player did not represent his first country after turning 21.
Morocco called up El Haddadi last week to play in two friendlies during the current international period, including against Senegal on Friday in Rabat.
The Sevilla forward’s appearance for Spain’s senior team is no longer a barrier to his intended switch.
However, there is an issue with his games for Spain’s Under-21 team in European qualifiers after he turned 21 in September 2016.
The new FIFA rule requires “at the time of being fielded for his last match in an official competition in any kind of football for his current association, he had not turned 21 years old.”
Since FIFA made its ruling last month, El Haddadi posted a clip on his Twitter account expressing thanks to Spain and looking toward the Morocco flag.


European Ryder Cup stars take aim on 2021 Saudi International

Updated 27 November 2020

European Ryder Cup stars take aim on 2021 Saudi International

  • The February tourney looks set to be one of the strongest events on European Tour schedule

JEDDAH: European Ryder Cup stars Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood join defending champion Graeme McDowell in looking to get their campaign to qualify for the 2021 European Ryder Cup team off to the strongest possible start at the Saudi International.

The tournament, powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, will take place  Feb. 4 -7 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

With world No. 1 and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau confirmed for the event, along with reigning Open champion Shane Lowry and US stars Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, the strength of the field means huge ranking points will be on offer for Europe’s leading golfers as they look to get their 2021 qualifying efforts off to a fast start and secure a coveted place on the 2021 European Ryder Cup team.

With a lineup that looks set to ensure that the Saudi International will be one of the strongest events on the 2021 European Tour schedule, Golf Saudi is looking to build on the momentum resulting from hosting two extremely successful Ladies European Tour events this month as interest and participation in golf continues to grow in the Kingdom.

Fleetwood, a six-time winner on the European Tour and standout player in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Paris in 2018, is making his debut this year in the Saudi International. He said: “From all I’ve heard from the lads who played there the last couple of years, the Saudi International has established itself as one of the leading events on the European Tour both in terms of set up and facilities as well as quality of the field, which is really impressive this year.”

Poulter, who played for the first time in the 2020 edition, said: “I really enjoyed the tournament at the beginning of this year and am psyched to be returning next February. The course sets up for my game rather nicely so I was pretty frustrated to only finish in the top 20 and will certainly be aiming to finish rather higher up the leaderboard this year!

“It’s a fantastic championship course with some amazing vistas and I also really like the fact we get to play a part in introducing golf to a whole new audience in a new region. With Ryder Cup qualification on the line, I am obviously looking to get my campaign off to a fast start and getting a decent finish or winning the Saudi International against such a stellar field would be massive.

“It’s been a really weird year with the pandemic so we are all looking forward to a fresh start in 2021 and I am hoping it is also a strong start as I keep my eyes firmly focused on qualifying for the European team at Whistling Straits,” he added.

Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “This announcement marks yet another amazing group of golf stars joining our 2021 field and the excitement of all the players to kick off afresh in 2021, in Saudi Arabia, is heartening to hear.

“The lineup for the tournament is looking strong and with more players still to be announced in the coming weeks — and on the back of two excellent Ladies European Tour events earlier this month — we are very much looking forward to the third edition of our tournament. We believe it will be the strongest installment to date and will serve as a fabulous illustration that Saudi Arabia is open for business.”