On Saturday evening, Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin declared he was ready to turn his back on the country of his birth and would be interested in playing for England in the future. Countless number of English media publications ran with the story, fans and pundits alike got excited. The only problem is, despite the players’ interest, despite any interest from England manager Roy Hodgson, as the current rules stand he will never pull on the famous Three Lions.
Born in France, Schneiderlin has featured for various French youth sides from Under-16 all the way to Under-21, but has since failed to make a single appearance for the full national side. In-fact he hasn’t even been called up to the senior side, despite his excellent performances in the Premier League.
“The France manager makes his choice and he has his team. He has a group of 30 players that he trusts and will take [to the World Cup] and I’m not part of that.”
“I left France very young and maybe because I played in the second division they lost me a bit and prefer other players who play in France. That’s not up to me, its people’s tastes. I just do my best.”
Schneiderlin moved to England back in the summer of 2008, signing from French side Strasbourg when he was just 19-years-old. At the start of the current season he had been a resident of England for five years, and under government rules would be eligible to apply for citizenship, however it would still not make him eligible to play football for England.
Quite often players are given citizenship by other football nations as permitted by FIFA's statutes, which state a player can acquire a different nationality to that of his birth country if "he has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant association." Schneiderlin does meet these criteria.
However under the terms of an agreement between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Football Association would not be allowed to cap Schneiderlin at any point.
The "home nations" agreed to opt out of the residency rule in 2009. FIFA's statutes state that "associations sharing a common nationality", as is the case with the four nations, can make an agreement to remove the residency clause. Said agreement exists between the four associations. There has been talk in the past regarding the FA's want to abolish the agreement, but as it stands, it is still in place.
The English FA may be keen, the player may be willing, but as it stands, despite all the tabloid inches this is one player that Hodgson will have to forget about.