Do Argentine players have illegal passports?

When this blogger lived in Argentina in 2001, the rush for European passports was immense.

As the country teetered on the brink of collapse – which came, sure enough – hundreds of thousands of residents looked up their past in an attempt to find a way to attain European passports. Most Argentines (around 60 per cent) are from Italian descent and about 30 per cent are of Spanish origin.

These days the living isn't exactly easy, but it is better. But as protests continually bring the city to a halt the exudos has sped up again.

And it seems footballers are no different.

Dozens of Argentine players are among those being investigated for travelling to Italy on illegal passports, according to a BBC report. The report suggests the reason for footballers buying illegal passports is so that Italian clubs can avoid the limit of non-European players on their team. This does, of course, implicate the clubs. However, they can earn much more money in Europe.

Juan Veron: Investigated for dodgy passport dealings in 2002 

Argentinian judge Norberto Oyarbide started the investigation after staff in the Italian Embassy didn't recognise the signature on the passports.

Apparently an illegal passport can be bought in a few days for US$30,000, while the process of getting a real one can last for months. Also the ever-tightening rules mean that only those with close ancestors born in Italy are eligible.

It is also being reported that many of the passports claim the players' ancestors were all born in Fagnano Castello. Current population? 4,194.

Call me a cynic, but...

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