Swiss FA considers forcing young footballers to drop a second nationality

Xherdan Shaqiri, who plays for Switzerland, has the Swiss flag on one boot and the flag of Kosovo, where he was born, on the other Keystone

Switzerland has to ask itself whether it should ban dual citizens from representing the national football team, says the secretary-general of the Swiss Football Association. Alex Miescher raised the issue following the recent “double eagle” controversy at the football World Cup. 

This content was published on July 6, 2018 - 08:26

Three Swiss footballers, two of whom are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, were fined by FIFA for making hand gestures of an Albanian national symbol to celebrate goals against Serbia. Of the team’s 12 selected midfielders and forwards, ten either were born abroad or have parents who emigrated to Switzerland.  

“That incident shows that there’s a problem. We have to ask ourselves: do we want dual nationals?” Miescher said in an interviewExternal link with the Tages-Anzeiger on Friday. 

He suggested that the association could offer its support programme for young players only to those who renounce a second nationality. 

Miescher admitted that Switzerland currently benefited from the strength of the national team, “but if Bosnia, Croatia, Albania and certain African countries took part in a future World Cup, it could be the case that Switzerland is simply training many players for other countries”. 

He said talented young players make promises to the Swiss football association, but when they reach 21 they opt to represent another country because they have a greater chance of playing at an international level. 

“I find it galling that we can’t do anything about that,” he said, explaining that someone who does that takes away a valuable, expensive place from another person. 

Ivan Rakitic, for example, who scored the winning penalty for Croatia in a shoot-out with Denmark last Sunday, was born and raised in Switzerland. He started his career for FC Basel and represented Switzerland in the Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 teams. In 2007, when he was 19, he decided to play for Croatia, triggering angry reactions in Switzerland. 

Miescher says the association wants to put the idea of excluding dual citizens out there and see what the reaction is. “If everyone says it’s crazy, then that’s OK. But we maintain that this issue needs to be calmed down.” 

What do you think? Should dual nationals be excluded from the national football team?

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