Qatar coach threat­ens to re­sign if nat­u­ral­ized play­ers ex­cluded

Kuwait Times - - OKAZAKI, MAHREZ FIRE LEICESTER INTO LAST 16 -

The coach of Qatar’s na­tional soc­cer team has threat­ened to re­sign if a plan be­ing con­sid­ered by the coun­try’s foot­ball au­thor­ity (QFA) to ex­clude nat­u­ral­ized play­ers from the squad is im­ple­mented.

Qatar has used its im­mense oil and gas wealth to re­cruit sports­peo­ple from around the world to bol­ster its na­tional team, part of an am­bi­tious vault onto the world sport­ing stage by the wealthy Arab state which will host the soc­cer World Cup in 2022.

Jorge Fos­sati told lo­cal me­dia on Wed­nes­day that a plan by the QFA to re­duce the num­ber of for­eign-born play­ers could dam­age Qatar’s chances of qual­i­fy­ing for its first World Cup fi­nals in Rus­sia in 2018.

“I heard about a plan to ex­clude nat­u­ralised play­ers and bring in more young Qatari play­ers into the na­tional team. It (dis­cour­ag­ing nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion) is one point I don’t agree with at this stage,” Fos­sati told Doha Sta­dium Plus, an English-lan­guage sports weekly.

Fos­sati, who was hired by Qatar in Septem­ber, said that if the fed­er­a­tion went ahead with the plan he would quit.

“If the fed­er­a­tion wants to go an­other way, I’ll re­spect its de­ci­sion 100 per cent. And it’ll be bet­ter for the Qatar na­tional team to have an­other coach who sup­ports that view.” A spokesman for the QFA de­clined to com­ment. About half of Qatar’s na­tional team are nat­u­ralised ci­ti­zens, in­clud­ing Ro­drigo Ta­bata of Brazil and Uruguay’s Se­bas­tian So­ria. In a match against China on Nov. 15 six play­ers in the start­ing 11 were nat­u­ralised.

But Doha has also said it wants to fos­ter lo­cal in­ter­est in sport among its roughly 300,000 ci­ti­zens and to field a home­grown squad when it hosts the 2022 tour­na­ment.

World soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body FIFA rules state that a player must have lived in a coun­try con­tin­u­ously for five years af­ter the age of 18 be­fore rep­re­sent­ing the na­tional side. — Reuters

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