Manchester City’s Yaya Touré to buy Maltese citizenship
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