Dual citizenship laws could play a significant role in shaping the decisions of athletes when it comes to representing their countries in international sports competitions. The recent choice made by NBA MVP Joel Embiid to represent the United States over his native Cameroon, may due in part to dual citizenship laws, highlights the complexities of this issue. In this article, we will explore the impact of dual citizenship laws on athlete representation using the case of Joel Embiid, as well as examine how dual citizenship has contributed to Morocco’s historic success in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This article will conclude with an analysis of why embracing dual citizenship may be the future of African sports and the policy changes that are needed to support this shift.

The Role of Dual Citizenship Laws in Joel Embiid’s Decision

The history of Cameroonian legislation on citizenship is deeply rooted in the colonial period, particularly the French mandate and the 1959 ordinance. Post-independence, Cameroon adopted nationality legislation primarily based on the French model. The Cameroonian ordinance of November 28, 1959, and subsequent legislation have formed the basis for citizenship laws in the country.

One of the fundamental features of the Cameroonian law of nationality, namely the law of June 11, 1968, is the automatic loss of Cameroonian nationality, without any formality or procedure. This is the particular provision of Article 31(a) of the Law of June 11, 1968, which states that an individual automatically loses his Cameroonian nationality when he or she voluntarily acquires or retains a foreign nationality, typically after the age of 21. This provision means that Cameroonians with dual nationality automatically lose their Cameroonian status.

In Embiid’s case, he automatically ceased to be a citizen of Cameroon when he became a French and USA citizen in 2022. This could mean that his decision was effectively between representing the United States and France, as Cameroon was no longer in the mix due to its strict nationality laws.

Morocco’s Triumph in the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Unity in Diversity

Morocco’s remarkable journey to the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a testament to the positive impact of dual citizenship. The Moroccan national football team featured several foreign-born players, including Achraf Hakimi and Yassine Bounou, who were born in Madrid, Spain, and Montreal, Canada, respectively. Despite their foreign births, these players chose to represent Morocco, their ancestral homeland.

Morocco’s success on the world stage was not hindered by the diverse backgrounds of its players. In fact, the team’s unity in diversity became a source of strength. The players shared the dressing room, formed emotional connections, and developed chemistry, leading to a solid defensive performance that helped them reach unprecedented territory.

The importance of dual citizenship in this context is evident through the players’ deep connections to their Moroccan roots. Many of them have parents who made significant sacrifices to provide them with better opportunities. This sense of gratitude and shared heritage fostered a strong sense of belonging and commitment to the Moroccan national team.

Policy Changes for the Future of African Sports

The success stories of Joel Embiid and Morocco’s national football team could highlight the potential of embracing dual citizenship in African sports. To unlock this potential,  African nations such as Cameroon that have laws against dual nationality,must consider policy changes that align with international standards and support athletes with dual nationality. Here are some key policy changes to consider:

Recognition of Dual Citizenship: Reevaluate and amend laws to officially recognize dual citizenship, allowing athletes to proudly represent their native country without the fear of losing their original nationality.

International Law Compliance: Align national citizenship laws with international standards to respect the rights and choices of individuals with dual nationality.


Joel Embiid’s decision and Morocco’s World Cup success illustrate how dual citizenship can positively impact athlete representation and sports development in African nations. By embracing dual citizenship and implementing policy changes, countries like Cameroon can unlock the full potential of their athletes and foster unity in diversity. These changes not only support the dreams of athletes but also contribute to the growth and success of African sports on the global stage.

DISCLAIMER: We do not categorically say this is the reason for Embiid choosing Team USA but the purpose of this article is to educate readers on the existence of this law.

Stephen Ojo
An avid lover of sports.

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