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Competitive caps may no longer...
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Competitive caps may no longer be a barrier to switching countries

Players may be allowed to play international football for a second team, even if they've played a competitive game. 

Under FIFA's current statutes, a player becomes ineligible to line out for another country if they have played a competitive game.

Famously, it was this loophole that allowed Declan Rice to declare for England even after winning three Republic of Ireland caps.

As all of those games were friendlies, Rice was free to switch international allegiance back to the country of his birth.

In a similar vein, Southampton striker Michael Obafemi qualifies for both England and Nigeria. But as he was capped in a Nations League game against Denmark he is tethered to the Republic of Ireland.

Even if Obafemi falls out of favour with Ireland in the coming years, those 10-minutes in Aarhus would prevent him playing international football for anyone else.

With FIFA's latest proposal, that could change.

What's now suggested is that a player would be allowed switch countries if they have played no more than three-games for the original country - including qualifying games - before the age of 21.

The last of those caps must come three-years before they initiate changing their eligibility status.

Games at finals tournaments would also bar a player from changing eligibility.

The new rule will be put before FIFA Congress in Zurich on September 18, with all 211 member nations having a vote.

Conversely to the Obafemi example, the Republic of Ireland could bring on board eligible players whose international caps elsewhere have dried up.

A FIFA working group has spent the past two years concocting the proposal, informed by a case brought by Munir El Haddadi to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He wanted to represent Morocco at the 2018 World Cup. However, a 77th minute substitute appearance for Spain in a Euro 2016 qualifier in 2014 had prevented him switching.

FIFA are also looking to change residency rules for young players.

As things stand, players need five-years residency from the age of 18 if they wish to declare for a country.

The new proposal would see three-years residency required if a player moved to the country before the age of 10, and five years residency if the move was aged 10 to 18.

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CAS Court Of Arbitration For Sport Declan Rice Eligibility FIFA International Michael Obafemi Munir El Haddadi Nations League Republic Of Ireland Spain Uefa Nations League

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