Amid speculation over the last month, the Football Association (FA) has decided to put an end to the possibility of Spanish-born Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta playing for England.
"Under our understanding of FIFA rules, the player is ineligible to play for England," an FA Spokesman said.
One would have to wonder why it took the FA so long to speak up. Surely this isn't the first time this issue has ever come up over the years?
FIFA article 18.1 (a) says: "At the time of a player's first full or partial appearance in an international match in an official competition for his current association, he must already have the nationality of the representative team for which he wishes to play."
Maybe that's why nobody at FIFA spoke up. Nobody knew how in the heck to interpret that rule.
What the FA has determined, finally, is that Arteta, who played for the Spanish Under-16 and Under-17 teams, would have to have been eligible, at the time he played for Spain, to play for England as well.
Why? I have no idea. This rule makes about as much sense as a sand box in the desert. Arteta only recently pursued his British citizenship.
Arteta had been shown some interest in possibly donning the England uniform. His inability to crack the Spanish team has been frustrating for the 28 year old.
It appeared he was finally on his way to call up in 2009 before an injury sidelined him for several months. When he finally got healthy and returned to the field for Everton in January of this year, it was too late for him to get a shot with Spain for the World Cup in South Africa.
Recently re-signed with David Moyes at Everton, Arteta is ready to make a push for a national team. Perhaps for the 2012 Euros and even the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
But it now appears that if either of those goals is to be reached it will have to be with his native Spain, and not the red and white of the Three Lions.
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