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Fabio Capello embarrassed as Fifa rule confirms Mikel Arteta's ineligibility to play for England
Published : 01 Sep 2010 17:56:40
In recent weeks there has been a campaign growing around the Everton midfielder, who had been led to believe he would be eligible for England after completing five years residency in the United Kingdom. Because Arteta has never played for Spain, it appeared he would be able to switch national allegiances once he had been granted UK citizenship. Related ArticlesArteta would consider playing for EnglandArteta's England call-up would be a step into heart of darknessArteta considers EnglandSFA: Arteta not eligible for EnglandArteta happy with Everton pledgeSport on televisionEarlier this week, the Football Association stressed they had not been asked to investigate the matter by Fabio Capello, although it was thought the England coach had spoken briefly to Arteta, who was said to be enthusiastic about the prospect. However, it now transpires Arteta is almost certainly not eligible at all. "Under our understanding of Fifa rules the player is ineligible to play for England," an FA spokesman said. While world governing body Fifa are anxious not to pre-judge any request from the FA, it has been pointed out the rules on previously appearing for national sides do not cover full internationals alone. The little known Article 18.1.a within the Fifa statutes outlines that any player who has represented their country in an official competition, at whatever level, would at that time need to have held a passport for the country they later wish to play for in order to be permitted to make the switch. In Arteta's case, because he played for Spain in the Under-16 European Championships and then in the Fifa World Championships at Under-17 level, the only way he could satisfy the current criteria is if he held a UK passport at the same time. It hardly seems likely a 28-year-old from San Sebastian would have gained such a document over a decade ago, which means that even if an application to Fifa was made on the FA's behalf, it would automatically be rejected. This news is bound to come as a blow to Arteta, and maybe even Capello. However, it does save an awful lot of controversy, not least because Scotland boss Craig Levein recently pointed out a gentleman's agreement between the four Home Nations where they have all vowed not to exploit eligibility loopholes.