According to Spanish newspaper AS, Brazil-born striker Diego Costa has decided to reject a call up to the Brazilian national team in order to represent Spain at international level.
Despite obtaining his Spanish citizenship this summer, Costa has previously played in a friendly for Brazil against Italy in March and should therefore be unable to switch allegiances and play for Spain.
Costa was reportedly unhappy at the lack of playing time he was given by Brazilian manager Luis Felipe Scolari and therefore declared his wish to represent Spain in next Summer’s World Cup in Rio. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that once a player has been capped by a country at full international level, they ought to be forced to commit to that country for the remainder of their international career.
I sympathise with the position of Costa, who did not represent any international team at youth level, and has lived in Spain since 2007. However, if he had wished to represent Spain at international level, he ought to have made this clear earlier in his career and rejected Brazil when initially called up to the national side in March.
I cannot help but feel that the Los Colchoneros’ striker’s decision to chose Spain has more to do with concerns about holding down a place in the Brazilian side, rather than any long-standing patriotic feelings he may have towards his adopted home nation.
Players should not have the ability to ‘select’ their national team, and switching of nationalities ought to be only allowed in very exceptional cases, rather than simply when a player has lived in a country for a specific period of time. If this were to be the norm, we could soon see successful national sides experiencing an excess of talent queuing up to play for their side. The most successful domestic leagues would then tend to produce the most successful international sides, leading to very dull and predictable International tournaments.
Part of the excitement of International football is the unpredictability that it produces. Allowing players more freedom to choose which nation they represent will detract from this, and therefore should be considered highly undesirable.