Manch­ester City’s Yaya Touré to buy Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

In­ter­na­tional foot­ball star Yaya Touré is set to be­come a Mal­tese cit­i­zen af­ter re­cently fil­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion un­der the In­di­vid­ual In­vest­ment Pro­gramme (IIP), The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day can re­veal.

The Manch­ester City mid­fielder was in Malta re­cently to per­son­ally file an ap­pli­ca­tion to ac­quire Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship.

Touré had a rough sum­mer with ru­mours do­ing the rounds that he was set to move out of the UK to play for In­ter Mi­lan. But while the Ivory Coast foot­baller re­mained with Manch­ester City, amid the con­tro­ver­sies that sur­rounded his stay, lit­tle did he con­ceive, at the time, that the UK would be vot­ing to leave the EU in the his­toric Brexit ref­er­en­dum, which claimed for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron as its big­gest ca­su­alty.

While the Brexit re­sult will prob­a­bly not dent his pro­fes­sional ca­reer given that he hails from an­other con­ti­nent al­to­gether, the de­ci­sion taken by the UK will un­doubt­edly af­fect his im­me­di­ate family, in par­tic­u­lar the fu­ture of his two sons.

One would as­sume that Touré has also opted to pur­chase Mal­tese pass­ports for his

wife and two sons while ac­quir­ing his own Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship. Should this be the case, Touré would be in­vest­ing around €1 mil­lion to get a ‘family pack­age’ of Mal­tese pass­ports. He is also the younger brother of his Ivory Coast team­mate Kolo Touré. The pair played to­gether at Manch­ester City for three years be­fore Kolo was trans­ferred to Liver­pool in 2013.

This news­room could not, how­ever, con­firm the pos­si­bil­ity that his brother has also sought Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship.

Touré is no stranger to con­tro­versy. It has been re­ported in var­i­ous sec­tions of the press that he was left dis­ap­pointed by the ‘lack of re­spect’ shown to him by his cur­rent club and the Bri­tish me­dia.

Seek­ing to mend his re­la­tion­ship with man­ager Pep Guardi­ola, the Manch­ester City mid­fielder apol­o­gised on Fri­day for out­bursts by his agent.

A state­ment of con­tri­tion was de­manded two months ago by Guardi­ola be­fore Touré would be con­sid­ered for se­lec­tion again. But it’s still not clear if the four­time African player of the year will play again for City.

“I wish to apol­o­gize – on be­half of my­self and those who rep­re­sent me – to the man­age­ment team and all those work­ing at the club for the mis­un­der­stand­ings from the past,” Touré wrote on Face­book. “Those state­ments do not rep­re­sent my views on the club or the peo­ple who work there.”

The Ivo­rian, who serves as cap­tain of his na­tional team and for which he has played 113 times, will un­for­tu­nately not be able to play for the Mal­tese na­tional side if plans to ac­quire his Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship come to fruition. FIFA rules pre­clude him from do­ing so since he has al­ready plays for the Ivory Coast, his first coun­try.

Touré played for Barcelona in the 2009 UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal and has been re­garded as one of the world’s best play­ers. He was, in fact, voted African Foot­baller of the Year for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. He also played for Bev­eren, Me­talurh Donetsk, Olympia­cos, and AS Monaco be­fore mov­ing to Barcelona in 2007. He was also a pro­tag­o­nist in help­ing Manch­ester City earn its first league ti­tle in 44 years.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Owen Bon­nici re­cently re­vealed in Par­lia­ment that the con­tro­ver­sial In­di­vid­ual In­vest­ment Pro­gramme has gen­er­ated €310,300,500 for Malta. He as­sured the pub­lic that this money will be en­joyed by all, and not just a few.

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat has re­peat­edly said that the IIP was in­tro­duced to at­tract peo­ple with tal­ent and that it was not just a case of sell­ing EU pass­ports as the Na­tion­al­ist Op­po­si­tion con­tin­ues to de­scribe the pro­gramme, which is, how­ever, rid­dled with loop­holes over the pe­riod of time that each ap­pli­cant needs to re­side in Malta.

For Yaya Touré and his family to suc­ceed in their bid to be­come Mal­tese cit­i­zens, they will have to pur­chase prop­erty in Malta and spend a year’s ef­fec­tive res­i­dency in Malta – ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment reached be­tween the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

How­ever, sev­eral re­ports have sur­faced to the ef­fect that the Mal­tese au­thor­i­ties hardly ever fol­low this par­tic­u­lar clause in the agree­ment and it ap­pears that the EU is not very con­cerned about check­ing to see if the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment has been tak­ing it for a ride in this re­spect.

Malta isn’t the only EU mem­ber state trad­ing cit­i­zen­ship in a pro­gramme which, though po­lit­i­cally con­tro­ver­sial, found the EU Com­mis­sion’s bless­ing fol­low­ing a Euro­pean Par­lia­men­tary de­bate which con­demned the prac­tice adopted by var­i­ous EU coun­tries in a bid to raise rev­enue. Th­ese in­clude Aus­tria, Por­tu­gal and Cyprus.

The Ivo­rian, who serves as cap­tain of his na­tional team and for which he has played 113 times, will un­for­tu­nately not be able to play for the Mal­tese na­tional side if plans to ac­quire his Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship come to fruition

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