Africans forget paperwork for French players

JOHANNESBURG - African countries hoping to benefit from the ethnic quotas controversy that has rocked French football have acted too hastily as some players selected for African Nations Cup qualifiers this weekend are ineligible.

Several young players turned to African countries following the row that broke out in April when French website Mediapart, citing sources within the French Football Federation (FFF), said FFF officials were in favour of ethnic quotas.

The FFF denied they had discussed the idea of enforcing limits on black and Arab players in youth academies.

Toulouse defender Cheikh Mbengue (pictured) and Olympique Lyon full-back Lamine Gassama, both French under-21 internationals, have since been called up by Senegal for their match against Cameroon.

However, FIFA ruled that neither player was eligible to represent the west African country on Saturday because they had not applied to the world governing body to change nationality.

Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda, who Morocco coach Eric Gerets named in his squad for the match against Algeria on Saturday, is also still ineligible with a FIFA spokesman telling Reuters no application had been received for him.

However, his Montpellier team-mate Abdelhamid El Kaoutari can play for Morocco after FIFA granted his application for a change in footballing nationality last month.


FIFA said applications by former England under-21 internationals Victor Moses and Shola Ameobi to play for Nigeria had been received but were still pending.

Both players were named on standby for Nigeria's match against Argentina on Wednesday and a Nations Cup qualifier in Ethiopia at the weekend.

African countries are hoping more players with ties to the continent will defect from France and represent their country of origin following the scandal at the French federation.

"The systems they have in France means we are able to gather good players who are from the second generation of migrants," Senegal Football Federation president Augustine Senghor said in a Radio France international interview.

"But we have also lost a lot of potential players to France, like Alou Diarra and Patrice Evra. This is a pity for us.

"Overall we reckon France gains as much from its African players as Africa does from players schooled in France."