The long saga of whether Munir El Haddadi can change his national allegiance from Spain to Morocco is finally over after football’s world governing body Fifa confirmed his switch on Friday.
The 25-year-old has spent years trying in vain to play for the North Africans after initially being prevented from doing so because of a brief appearance he made for Spain in 2014.
Con esta victoria os quiero desear Felices Fiestas! 🎄 pic.twitter.com/p33i515Jjn
— munir el haddadi (@Munirhaddadi) December 23, 2020
Nonetheless, despite his previous failures to change allegiance – two of which he has unsuccessfully appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – he is now free to play for Morocco.
“The Single Judge of the Players’ Status Committee has approved the following change of association: Munir El Haddadi, (to) Morocco (from) Spain,” a Fifa spokesperson told BBC Sport Africa.
The change in stance comes after Fifa issued new guidelines last week regarding the rules on switching allegiance.
Of particular note was the modification of a regulation which stated that players could not profit from Fifa’s rules amendment, in September, if they had played any match for a national team when aged over 21.
“Considering the principle of legal certainty, the age requirement (“he had not turned 21 years old”) shall not apply to players who played their last match in an official competition … prior to 18 September 2020, the date the September 2020 amendments entered into force,” Fifa stated.
When the rules were changed to allow players aged under 21 to swap national allegiances even if they have played up to three competitive games, the Morocco Football Federation (FMRF) hoped to take swift advantage.
Fifa had amended its ruling following a proposal by the FMRF themselves, and the Moroccans were so certain of success that they named El Haddadi – widely known as Munir – in their squad for friendlies in October.
But in November, CAS upheld Fifa’s previous decision barring the Sevilla forward from swapping nationalities whereupon his dreams of representing the Atlas Lions seemed over.
As Munir – who was born in Spain and has a Moroccan father – had played for the Spanish Under-21 side after his 21st birthday, he was ineligible.
However, since the last of those appearances came in 2016 – long before Fifa’s recently-stipulated cut-off point of September 2020 – he has been now cleared to play.