International sport, in accordance with global political norms, has traditionally classified its participants by “nationality”. In football, the rules governing eligibility to play for representative teams are facilitated by the nationality granted to private individuals by a (sovereign) state.
On 25 September 2019, the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee (FSC) established a technical working group (TWG) to analyse the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes (RGAS) and the rules governing eligibility to play for representative teams in football, which had remained (effectively) unchanged since 2008.
This paper will briefly examine the concepts of nationality and sporting nationality, provide a historical overview of the FIFA rules, and summarise the 2020 reform process and amendments to those rules.
The nation was born on the intellectual battleground of the French Revolution. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the sovereign “nation-state” emerged as the sole legitimate governance unit within international politics. Norms of sovereignty are now entrenched within the Charter of the United Nations (UN). In particular, the Charter champions the sovereign equality of all UN member states, prohibits any attack on political independence and territorial integrity of a member state, and strongly limits intrastate intervention.
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