Spain-born Munir loses 2nd appeal to switch to Morocco

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A Spanish soccer player lost his second appeal case on Friday against FIFA nationality rules that stop him from switching to play for Morocco.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the appeal by Munir El Haddadi in an urgent ruling sought by the player and the Moroccan soccer federation before African Cup of Nations qualifying games this month.

The Sevilla forward hoped to take advantage of new national eligibility rules updated by FIFA in September. El Haddadi was born in Spain and has Moroccan family ties.

El Haddadi lost his first appeal at CAS in 2018 when FIFA rules prevented Morocco from selecting him for the World Cup because he played a competitive game for Spain’s national team more than three years earlier.

That one appearance — for less than 20 minutes as a late substitute in a European Championship qualifying game — locked the then-Barcelona teenager into representing Spain, according to FIFA rules at the time.

His case helped persuade FIFA to ease its rules this year and allow changes of allegiance in certain cases, including if a player had played a competitive game for his first country before turning 21.

However, El Haddadi’s latest appeal failed because he also played for Spain in Under-21 European Championship qualifiers after he turned 21 in September 2016.

The new FIFA rules require “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.”

CAS said the appeal was heard on Wednesday but the decision was published on Friday. A full written verdict with follow in the months ahead.

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