The 70th FIFA Congress, which will be held in September 2020, voted to change the rules governing national team eligibility. Previously, a single appearance in a competitive match, such as a Nations League match, would commit a player to a national team for the duration of their international career.
The new rule, however, allows players to switch nationalities if they have played a maximum of three competitive senior matches before turning 21, as long as they have not appeared in a FIFA World Cup final match or continental finals for their first nation. As a result of this change, several African-born players will represent non-African countries in the World Cup in 2022.
There are numerous reasons why these athletes chose to represent foreign countries at the international level. Some were born in a foreign country and have strong ties to that country, while others moved to a foreign country at a young age and honed their football skills there. Furthermore, some players may have chosen to represent a foreign country because they believe they will have a better chance of being selected for a national team or because they want to honor their heritage by representing a specific country.
Whatever the reason, these players have significantly impacted the international football stage and will continue to do so for years to come. In no particular order, here are the 12 players of African origin who played for foreign nations in World Cup 2022:
- Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe was born to a Cameroonian father and an Algerian mother in Paris, France. He began his youth career with AS Bondy before joining the Paris Saint-Germain academy. Mbappe made his professional debut for PSG in 2017 and has since established himself as one of the world’s most highly regarded young players. He plays for France at the international level, making his debut in 2017 and helping the team win the World Cup in 2018.
2. Ansu Fati
Ansu Fati was born in Guinea-Bissau and moved to Spain with his family at a young age. He began his youth career with Sevilla before joining the academy at Barcelona in 2012. Fati made his professional debut for Barcelona in 2019 and has become a key player for the club. He represents Spain at the international level, making his debut in 2020.
3. Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka was born to Nigerian parents in London, England. He began his youth career with Arsenal before making his first team debut in 2018. Saka has established himself as a key player for Arsenal and will make his international debut in 2020.
4. Manuel Akanji
Manuel Akanji was born in Switzerland to a Nigerian mother and a Swiss father. He began his career with FC Basel before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2018. Akanji has established himself as a key player for Dortmund and has represented Switzerland internationally since his debut in 2017.
5. Eduardo Camavinga
Eduardo Camavinga was born in Angola and moved to France with his family when he was very young. He began his youth career with Rennes before making his first team debut in 2019. He eventually moved to Real Madrid in 2021, where he helped them win the Champions League. He represents France.
6. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies was born in Ghana and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was a child. His professional career began with the Vancouver Whitecaps before transferring to Bayern Munich in 2018. Davies has established himself as a key player for Bayern Munich and has represented Canada at the international level since his debut in 2017.
7. Jules Kounde
Jules Kounde was born in France to a Senegalese mother and a French father. He began his professional career with Bordeaux before transferring to Sevilla and then to Barcelona in 2022. Kounde has established himself as a key player for Barcelona and will make his international debut in 2021.
8. Breel Embolo
Breel Embolo was born in Cameroon and moved to Switzerland with his family when he was very young. He began his career with FC Basel before joining Schalke 04 in 2016. Embolo made his international debut in 2015 and now represents Switzerland.
9. Jamal Musiala
Jamal Musiala is the son of a German mother and a Nigerian father. He began his youth career with Chelsea before joining Bayern Munich’s academy in 2019. Musiala debuted for Bayern Munich in 2020 and has represented Germany and England at the international level.
10. Ousmane Dembélé
Ousmane Dembélé was born in France to an Algerian father and a Mauritanian mother. He began his career with Rennes before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2017. Dembélé made his international debut in 2016 and now represents France.
11. Rafael Leao
Rafael Leao was born in Cape Verde and moved to Portugal with his family when he was very young. Sporting Lisbon was where he began his youth career before breaking into the first team in 2017. Leao joined AC Milan in 2019 and will make his international debut for Portugal in 2021.
12. Danilo Pereira
Danilo Pereira was born in Cape Verde and moved to Portugal with his family when he was very young. Before moving to Porto in 2015, he began his professional career with Martimo. Pereira has established himself as a key player for Porto and has represented Portugal at the international level since his debut in 2011.