A population of just over two million people versus the enormous expectation, media interest and excitement that arises from hosting a World Cup finals. Brazil are favourites to win their home World Cup this summer, but could this be possible for Qatar in 2022?
Under current FIFA rules the possibility of Qatar making it to the final, or even harvesting a ‘dream team’, may be possible. I cannot, at this stage, imagine Qatar beating the likes of Germany, Spain and, dare I say it, England. However, I do think that they could win a game or two…
Towards the end of last year English football was caught up in the debate surrounding the potential for the Belgian-born Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj to play for England. Similarly, there has been a debate in Spain and just a couple of days ago, a striker named Diego Costa made the decision to represent the Spanish national team. He will continue to do so at the World Cup in June to the detriment of his country of birth, Brazil.
This has undoubtedly caused a great deal of anger. Diego Costa is allowed to do this because of the Regulations Governing the Application of FIFA Statutes.
The relevant Clause in Article 7 provides that a player who plays for a continuous period of over five years after reaching the age of 18 in the country of relevant national association – Spain, can play for that national association, providing that the player has not previously played for another country in a competitive match.
In Diego Costa’s case, he has already played for Brazil, in two friendly matches. Yet these matches will not count as ‘competitive’ under Article 5.2.
So how could this rule impact the future of international football and more specifically, Qatar’s national football team? Despite being ranked 105 in the world, Qatar may still be able to field a good side if they choose to tactically take advantage of this rule. They can do this by persuading players to play for Qatar with the promise of playing at World Cup level. Chosen players would simply have to play their football in Qatar for a period of five years, starting from a latest possible date of 2017, leading up to the World Cup.
The World Cup is a major media platform that could kick-start a young professional footballer’s career if he has a ‘break-out’ game. Wages in the English Premier League totaled £1.6bn for the season 2011/2012 alone. A young footballer who dreams about playing in the World Cup finals could represent Qatar and, if he plays well, could potentially land himself a contract in the Premier League earning a share of this huge wage bill.
Diego Costa, and many other players, have and will continue to ‘abuse’ this residency rule. However, the effects in the future could potentially be catastrophic for football, if countries do decide to exploit it. On the other hand, from a young professional footballer’s point of view, and that purely of business, it is a decision well worth deliberating.
Daniel De Saulles is an LPC student at the University of Law, Birmingham. Read all his sports blogs for Lawyer 2B.
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