Moroccan national team players have shared posts on social media welcoming El Haddadi to the Atlas Lions, despite reports that FIFA rejected his request to switch from Spain.
Rabat – Munir El Haddadi has said he is “so happy and excited” to join the Atlas Lions amid a flurry of reports that FIFA rejected his requested nationality switch from Spain to Morocco.
Major international news outlets such as The Associated Press and The Washington Post said FIFA announced Thursday its decision to reject Morocco’s request to have El Haddadi join the national team.
NBC Sports reported that FIFA has an issue with his participation in games for Spain’s Under-21 team in European qualifiers after he turned 21 in September 2016.
Quoting FIFA, the outlets said the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) and El Haddadi can challenge the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Moroccan television channel Al Oula reported that El Haddadi did not receive the official “okay” from FIFA to play for the Atlas Lions. Arryadia, another Moroccan channel, reported the same news, adding that FRMF intends to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, El Haddadi shared a video on Instagram Thursday evening — after the international media frenzy — saying he is “so happy and excited” to be with the Atlas Lions. He added that he is “still young” and has time to play with the Moroccan national team “for many years to come.”
FRMF confirmed the reports of his rejection on Friday, October 9, and said it would appeal the decision.
Munir El Haddadi was born in Spain to Moroccan parents. At age 19, he filled in as a substitute with the Spanish National Team against Macedonia in 2014.
Due to his involvement in a competitive game for the senior national team, FIFA’s rules committed El Haddadi to Spain.
He was unable to join the Moroccan team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after FIFA rejected an appeal to switch his nationality.
However, FIFA voted in September to allow football players who have played for one national team to change their affiliation and play for another if they meet specific requirements.
FIFA’s newly-amended clauses state that requests to switch national teams shall be approved if “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.”
The other conditions are that the player appeared no more than three times for a senior national team and none of the games were at a major tournament. Additionally, at least three years must have passed since playing for the senior national team.
Given the easing of nationality eligibility rules, Morocco’s national coach Vahid Halilhodzic called up Munir El Haddadi last week to play in two friendly matches against Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo, scheduled for October 9 and October 13, respectively.
This week, national team players shared social media posts welcoming El Haddadi to the Atlas Lions. The 25-year-old Sevilla FC forward appeared ecstatic to join the Moroccan team.