LONDON. — FIFA’s annual congress has approved a rule change which will give players greater scope to switch national teams.
Players can now switch if they have played no more than three matches at senior level, with all the appearances coming before the player turns 21.
Appearances in World Cup finals matches or continental finals such as the European Championships would prohibit a change of eligibility.
However, appearing in a tournament qualifier would not.
Previous rules ensured that one appearance in a competitive match, including Nations League games, tied players to that country for the remainder of their international careers.
The issue of players switching international eligibility has been a particular talking point for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in recent times.
Most recently, Oxford United midfielder Mark Sykes opted to declare for the Republic of Ireland last month after representing Northern Ireland Under-21s on several occasions.
The Republic have also been on the receiving end of previous switches with London-born West Ham player Declan Rice declaring for England last year after playing in three senior friendlies for the Irish.
Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish also declared for the county of his birth in 2016 after playing for the Republic’s Under-21s. Delegates from the 211 national associations gathered virtually for FIFA’s 70th Congress because of the Covid-19 pandemic. — BBC Sport.