A Century of Playing for the Flag: Historical Background and Evolution of the FIFA Regulations on Nationality and Eligibility (1904-2003)

A Century of Playing for the Flag: Historical Background and Evolution of the FIFA Regulations on Nationality and Eligibility (1904-2003)
This article offers a historical background to how nationality and eligibility criteria and requirements evolved from FIFA’s beginnings in 1904 up to the significant changes around the federation’s centenary. Over time, FIFA’s regulations asserted state nationality, addressed residence, naturalization, and the complex problem of multiple nationalities, as well as the nuance around the notion of the subject and the citizen.
 

Introduction

 

Since the beginnings of organized football, the definition of nationality, national boundaries, and eligibility has not been without its problems. What was a nation? Who were its nationals? What truly was a national association’s representative team? Was it representative of the players who played on its territory regardless of their identity? Or was it rather representative of some national identity? Could a player represent different nations at different times? From the initial era that predated regular international competition to the start of the World Cup in 1930, residence, birth, naturalization, and migration were at the heart of the earliest ideas about nationality in football - and they were anything but fixed in stone. This article builds on some of the questions outlined by...

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