The IFF Central Board has approved a change to the IFF Competition Regulations regarding the eligibility criteria for international players, allowing more than just citizenship of a country to be the deciding factor. Along with citizenship, choosing a sporting nationality, changing a sporting nationality, and granting nationality to stateless individuals will now be allowed.
International sport, in accordance with global political norms, has traditionally classified its participants by nationality, and the IFF currently defines the eligibility to represent a country at international level based solely on citizenship of a country. Under IFF regulations, players who hold citizenship of multiple countries are allowed to represent a different nation at junior (U19 level) and adult level, but once they represent a country at adult level this then becomes the only country they may represent at international level for the rest of their career.
Sport governing bodies have the possibility to allow eligibility to represent a nation based on criteria other than citizenship of a country. Many sporting governing bodies have now recognised different situations that would require or allow a change of sporting nationality for a player, for example, when a new country is officially recognised, or when a new country is given recognition by the International Federation. There should also be the possibility of a player to choose their sporting nationality based not just on formal citizenship, but other criteria.
According to Stefan Kratz, IFF Competition Manager, “These changes mark a big step forward for Floorball in eligibility policy and bring the sport in line with other major sporting bodies. These new rules will allow for much greater participation at international level, especially in many of our newer Member Associations, such as those in Africa.”
The new rules will come into effect from 1st January 2022. IFF Member Associations will still be able to make their own determination of what their international representative eligibility criteria is, based on the nationality rules of their own country as well as taking into consideration the new IFF eligibility options.
DETERMING SPORTING NATIONALITY
The core principle of ‘no nationality’, no eligibility will still remain, but how nationality is determined will be greatly expanded.
Sporting Nationality is assigned through representation of a country at international level. A player can simultaneously hold two sporting nationalities in the case of representing one country at junior (U19) level and another at adult level, however, once the adult level competition is played the country represented at adult level then becomes their ‘sporting nationality’ for the rest of their career.
Citizenship – Citizenship will still be the main eligibility criteria that the majority of players will meet to represent a country at international level
Choosing a sporting nationality – In the case of a player who has not represented any country at international level, they should be allowed to choose their sporting nationality based on fulfilling one of the following criteria:
- born on the territory of the relevant association;
- biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant association;
- grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant association;
- has lived on the territory of the relevant association for at least five years
In this situation, the player would need to prove their eligibility to represent their chosen nationality based on set documents, such as birth certificates or records of residency, for example.
Changing sporting nationality – There are cases where a player should be allowed to represent another association. For example, when a new country is officially recognised, or when a new country is given recognition by the International Federation. A player may, only once, request to change the association for which they are eligible to play at adult level, to the association of another country of which they hold the nationality.
A request to change association may be granted only in the following circumstances:
- The player wishes to represent an association that was admitted to federation membership after they were already assigned sporting nationality by way of participation in an international event;
- The player never represented their current association in any international event after the association which they wish to represent was admitted to membership;
- The player, at the time of playing their first match in an international competition (at any level) for their current association:
- held the nationality of the association which they wish to represent; or
- obtained the nationality of the association which they wish to represent as soon as reasonably practicable after the country was recognised by the majority of the members of the United Nations;
Shared nationality – Several Member Associations represent a territory as opposed to a country. When one of the countries becomes an independent member (for example Scotland Floorball becomes independent of UK Floorball) then a player may be granted permission to represent a second MA.
Stateless individuals – A “stateless person” is someone who is “not recognised as a national by any state under the operation of its law”. Granting sporting nationality based on meeting the criteria of being a stateless individual is the only exception to the general principle of “no nationality; no eligibility”.