Belfast Telegraph

Why young Bayern Munich star's international switch to Ireland is being blocked by FIFA

Bayern Munich's Ryan Johansson
Bayern Munich's Ryan Johansson

By Daniel McDonnell

The family of Bayern Munich starlet Ryan Johansson have sought legal advice in a bid to keep his dreams of playing for the Republic of Ireland alive after FIFA rejected an initial appeal to their decision to block his switch of allegiance from Luxembourg.

Johansson (18) grew up in Luxembourg with a Swedish father and Irish mother and has been courted by all three nations.

The highly-rated midfielder's preference is to play for Ireland, but FIFA statutes are preventing him from doing so.

Johansson played competitively for Luxembourg at underage level while working off the assumption that he could switch at any point and he lined out for Tom Mohan's U-19 side in a pair of friendly games last year.

However, FIFA have stopped Johansson from making a full switch because he lined out for Luxembourg before formally going through the process of securing Irish citizenship.

The player was always eligible but wasn't born with it because his mother Christine was born to Irish parents in England. In that event, an individual's details must be logged on the Foreign Births Register.

FIFA rules say that a player who can switch from one country to another provided that "at the time of his first full or partial appearance for his Current Association, he already had the nationality of the representative team for which he wishes to play".

Johansson had Luxembourg and Swedish passports at that time but not an Irish one; FIFA were alerted to that by the Luxembourg FA (FLF).

FIFA wrote to the FAI on October 25 to reject Johansson's request but the correspondence - seen by the Irish Independent - left open the option for a response.

The FAI reply was driven by legal advice that Johansson's family sought on his behalf.

They say FIFA's interpretation overlooks "key factual and substantive legal arguments" and goes against the "purpose and spirit" of a rule which is designed to avoid "tenuous, non-genuine" transfers.

Furthermore, they say it's a "gross injustice" that Johansson is being punished for a decision he took aged 15, and claim the FLF "acted in bad faith" by not letting the player know the consequences when he played.

They have asked FIFA to detail "legal and judicial" appeal routes that remain open if they say no again.

Irish Independent

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