After his harsh response to French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet, Karim Benzema has opened the possibility of playing international football with Algeria.
Benzema‘s current form with Real Madrid has again opened the debate that he should be included in Didier Deschamps‘ France team.
When Graet suggested Benzema’s career with France was over, the Real Madrid forward hit back stating: “If you think I’m done, let me play with one of the other countries I am eligible for and we’ll see.”
Clearly referring to Algeria, the country of his parents’ birth, but could Benzema actually play for another country?
In principle it is impossible under the FIFA Statutes as outlined in Article 18 which states that that “any player who has already participated in a match (either in full or in part) in an official competition of any category or any type of football for one association may not play in an international match for a representative team of another association.”
In addition, Benzema doesn’t have duel citizenship – Algeria and France – because in the nation of his birth, he can only hold one passport, as is the case in the United States, but different that that in Spain.
FIFA do outline the possibility of a player changing national allegiance as in Article 18.2 which states, “if a player who has been fielded by his association in an international match in accordance with art. 5 par. 2 permanently loses the nationality of that country without his consent or against his will due to a decision by a government authority, he may request permission to play for another association whose nationality he already has or has acquired.”
Thus it would be complicated for Benzema who would also have to change his passport and citizenship. It also doesn’t depend solely on the player as it would have to be the French government who decided to take his citizenship away.
Benzema would then have to go to FIFA in order to get approval to play for another nation.
“Any player who has the right to change associations in accordance with par. 1 and 2 above shall submit a written, substantiated request to the FIFA general secretariat,” Article 15 paragraph 3 states.
“The Players’ Status Committee shall decide on the request. The procedure will be in accordance with the Rules Governing the Procedures of the Players’ Status Committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber. Once the player has filed his request, he is not eligible to play for any representative team until his request has been processed.”
Graet‘s comments have upset Benzema and he is looking into filing a complaint to FIFA because he believes it shouldn’t be the decision of the FFF president to decide his international future.
And if he is no longer able to represent his country, then isn’t it right that he can be released to play for another?
Benzema confessed his love for Algeria during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and many in France clamour for his return to Les Bleus.