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The Uroš Matić case

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Matić (R) with the FFM president; photo: FFMMatić (R) with the FFM president; photo: FFMMacedonianFootball.com reported several times on the Uroš Matić situation and although it has been a while, we have no positive news. We dug deep to find out the reasons behind this.

EURO 2016 is behind us and Portugal is the new European Football Champion. Unfortunately, Macedonia was not part of it. At this moment we are very far from taking part at some of the biggest football competitions. But we are trying to improve. Our captain Goran Pandev is back at the national team and recently Macedonian Football Federation managed to convince several players with Macedonian origin to represent Macedonia internationally, such as: Leonard Zhuta, Alexander Damchevski, Besart Abdurahimi, Arijan Ademi, David Mitov Nilsson, Nikola Gjorgjev. Damjan Djoković is also one of the players who are candidates to play for Macedonia in the future.

One more player decided to represent Macedonia - Uroš Matić (SK Sturm Graz,Austria). His connection to Macedonia is through his maternal grandfather who was born in the village Volkovija, Tetovo region. In November of 2014, we did an interview with Uros Matić and he revealed that he might be interested to play for Macedonia. Matić came to Macedonia in December 2014 to visit Macedonian Football Federation and to confirm his wish to play for Macedonia. He applied for Macedonian citizenship in January, 2015. FFM started the procedure for getting permission from FIFA for Matic because he represented Serbia at youth level. Uros Matic himself game an update about this situation in June, 2015. But unexpectedly FIFA decided that Matić cannot play for Macedonia because by their rules he didn't have citizenship of the second country (Macedonia) at the moment when he played for the first one (Serbia). Everything would be OK if the rule is the same for every single football federation in the world but it's not actually like that. We made a research of some similar cases and we found really interesting information. We want to share several of these information with our readers.

One of the players with the same history like Matic is famous around the world - Kevin Prince Boateng. He was born in Germany and he represented Germany at youth level until 2009. In 2010 just before the World Cup in South Africa he decided to play for the country where his father was born - Ghana. He received a Ghanaian passport at 07 May 2010 and he made his debut for Ghana at 05 June 2010 against Latvia.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Germany) he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Ghana). Also at that time he couldn’t have both passports because Germany doesn’t recognize dual citizenship. In the past because of this German law, our goalkeeper Orhej Oka Nikolov canceled Macedonian citizenship to take a German citizenship and that’s why he didn’t play for Macedonia at any official game.

We found much more interesting that our neighbor and also our rival in the qualifications for the World Cup 2018 in Russia – Albania, has nine (9) players with exactly the same case like Matic. Seven (7) of them were part of the Albanian squad at the EURO 2016 in France.

Naser Aliji

He was born in Macedonia. He played for several Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 06 September 2014 against Latvia. In December 2014 he applied for Albanian citizenship and he received it on 05 March 2015 alongside his teammate Arlind Ajeti. He made his debut for Albania at 13 June 2015 against France in a friendly game.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Arlind Ajeti

He was born in Switzerland. He is of Kosovo origin. He played for all Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 04 September 2014 against Ukraine. On 14 November 2014 he had his debut for Albanian national team in a friendly game against France without having any Albanian documents. In order to become a national team player for Albania, not only Ajeti himself but also his parents, had to apply for Albanian passports He received Albanian citizenship on 05 March 2015 alongside his teammate Naser Aliji. He made his official debut for Albania at 04 September 2015 against Denmark.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Click on this link to see the President of Albania's decree with which the two players are given citizenship of Albania.

Berat Djimsiti

He was born in Switzerland. His family is from southern Serbia. He played for several Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 04 September 2014 against Ukraine. On 20 September 2014 he applied for Albanian citizenship andhe received it on 15 July 2015. He made his official debut for Albania at 04 September 2015 against Denmark.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing his first country (Switzerland) he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Click on this link to see the President of Albania's decree with which the player is given citizenship of Albania.

Migjen Basha

He was born in Switzerland. He is of Kosovo origin. He played for several Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 14 October 2008 against Spain. On 30 July 2012 he applied for Albanian citizenship andhe received it on 21 August 2012. The Swiss Football Association did not agree that Basha should be able to play for another nation and FIFA has not cleared him to play for Albania. But the Albanian Football Association didn’t give up and continued to push for the player so finally on 19 March 2013 received the go ahead from FIFA and Migjen Basha was allowed to play for Albania. He made his official debut for Albania at 22 March 2013 against Norway.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Amir Abrashi

He was born in Switzerland. He is of Kosovo origin. He played for all Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 16 October 2012 against Germany. In order to become a national team player for Albania, not only Abrashi himself but also his parents, had to apply for Albanian passports. He received Albanian citizenship on 24 May 2013 along with four other Albanian internationals Jurgen Gjasula, Ilir Berisha, Azdren Llullaku and Vullnet Basha. He made his official debut for Albania at 14 August 2013 against Armenia in a friendly game.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Vullnet Basha

He was born in Switzerland. He is of Kosovo origin. He played for several Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 14 November 2011 against Spain. He received Albanian citizenship on 24 May 2013. He made his debut for Albania at 14 August 2013 against Armenia in a friendly game.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Click on this link to see the President of Albania's decree with which the two players are given citizenship of Albania

Shkelzen Gashi

He was born in Switzerland. He is of Kosovo origin. He played for several Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 18 November 2009 against Georgia. On 14 August 2013 he had his debut for Albanian national team in a friendly game against Armenia without having any Albanian documents. He received Albanian citizenship on 18 August 2013. He made his official debut for Albania at 11 October 2013 against Switzerland.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Click on this link to see the President of Albania's decree with which the two players are given citizenship of Albania

Taulant Xhaka

He was born in Switzerland. He is of Kosovo origin. He played for several Swiss youth national teams. His last official game for Switzerland U21 was at 14 November 2011 against Spain. He received Albanian citizenship on 13 December 2013. He made his official debut for Albania at 07 September 2014 against Portugal.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Switzerland), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Agon Mehmeti

He was born in Kosovo. He played for several Swedish youth national teams. His last official game for Sweden U21 was at 07 October 2010 against Switzerland. He received Albanian citizenship on 04 June 2013 along with four other Albanian internationals Haxhi Neziraj, Valentin Gjokaj, Amir Rrahmani and Herolind Shala. He made his official debut for Albania at 06 September 2013 against Slovenia.

So just like Matić at the time when he was representing the first country (Sweden), he didn’t have a citizenship of the second one (Albania).

Click on this link to see the President of Albania's decree with which the player is given citizenship of Albania.

This is a proof that Albanian Football Association did everything to bring as much quality players as they can, fighting against the FIFA rules, and at the end they made it to the European Championship.

We can write about many other cases but we think that this is more than enough.

Macedonian Football Federation can appeal against the FIFA decision on Matić case in front of CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) but until now they didn’t do that. We want to know whether that is because they don’t want to get into a “fight” with FIFA or they don’t believe that Matić has enough quality to improve our national team?

The attitude of Macedonian Football editorial board is that we should never give up on any quality players which are eligible to play for Macedonia (it doesn’t matter if the player’s name is Uroš Matić or it is someone else) especially in a situation where our country occupies 139th place on the FIFA ranking list.

We hope that our federation will take some 'action' in this case and also we hope that FIFA will stop using dual standards for different countries, so hopefully we’ll see Matic wearing Macedonian jersey in the near future.

Official stance of FFM

We've got in touch with the Football Federation of Macedonia about the Matić case and this is their stance:

'Uroš Matić is a very good football player and also a great person so it’s our loss that he is not a member of Macedonian national team. We are in permanent communication with FIFA during the last 18 months on Matić case and we did everything in our power to obtain permission for Matić to play for Macedonia but unfortunately the decision of FIFA is unchanged so far. We will not give up and we will continue with our efforts in the future to provide a positive decision on the Uroš Matić case'.

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