Granny Rule: Should FIFA Change Rule Regarding International Eligibility?

Craig FarrellCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

SHIZUOKA - JUNE 21:  Fifa Fair Play flag before the England v Brazil, World Cup Quarterfinal Stage match played at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka, Japan on June 21, 2002. Brazil won the match 2 - 1. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Portsmouth defender Marc Wilson recently was called-up to the Republic of Ireland squad, despite being born in Northern Ireland.

Wilson declared for the Republic to the delight of Ireland National Team manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Wilson's decision however did not go down well with everybody.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has claimed that his country have been "exploited" by the Republic of Ireland and feels that this issue should be "dealt with firmly by the people at the top end of football."

The "granny rule" as many call it is a FIFA rule regarding the eligibility of a player playing for a nation other than the one in which he was born in.

The current ruling allows player to perform for a nation if they themselves were born there, if their parents or grandparents were born there, or if the player in question has lived in the country for two years continuously.

The rule has come under heavy scrutiny of late as many countries feel that they are being hard done by in relation players declaring for other nations.

In recent weeks it has been widely reported that Giovanni Trapattoni has approached Premier League midfielder Jamie O'Hara about playing for the Republic of Ireland.

Other eligible Republic of Ireland non-nationals that Trapattoni is reported to be interested in include Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Gary Cahill

Should FIFA allow football federations to legally poach other countries players?

Does FIFA need to change their ruling on International eligibility and limit a player's eligibility to the country in which he was born?

FIFA runs a major campaign for Fair Play.

But is it really fair that a country may lose one of their top talents because their grandparents happen to be from a "greater" football nation? Or because they have managed to live in a different country for a number of years?

In the last four World Cup tournaments only one country has managed to win the trophy fielding a team of country born citizens.

Brazil won the 1994 and 2002 World Cup with a team of born Brazilians.

Italy lifted the World Cup in 2006. They fielded Mauro Camoranesi who is originally an Argentinean citizen as well as Simone Perrotta, who was born in England.

France won the tournament in 1998 with a host of players who were not born in France. Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Christian Karembeu and Patrick Vieira were all players who played for France who were not born in the country.

In the last three years Brazil—as a winner and loser—has been the only finalists to consist of only players born to the country. 

Italy, France, as winners in 1998 and losers in 2006, along with Germany, who lost to Brazil in 2002, have all been finalists who fielded players who were born outside of the country.

Germany had Miroslav Klose (Poland), Oliver Neuville (Switzerland) and Gerald Asamoah (Ghana) in their squad.

In the European Championship only one team in the last three years has won the tournament with a full squad of nationals born in the country.

Greece won the trophy in 2004 with a squad of Greek born internationals.

The Italian side that lost to France in 1998 was the only other finalist in the last three years that had a team of players born in the country.

France who won in 1998 had Thuram, Desailly, and Vieira among others in their side. The Portugal side that lost to Greece in 2004 had Brazilian born Deco.

2008 winners Spain fielded Marcos Senna, who was born in Brazil, while losers Germany played Brazilian born Kevin Kuranyi and Polish born Lukas Podolski along with Klose.

FIFA advocates fair play but is it fair that a small African or European country should lose a talent born to them by an unjust FIFA rule?

Is it fair to give countries whom are blessed with strong competitive domestic leagues such as Spain, Italy, and France a loophole to snag players from other under privileged football nations?

England has a rich vein of talent to pick from; should they be gifted the opportunity to have other nations talent at their disposal?