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The FIFA loophole that allows Hudson-Odoi to swap England for Ghana

Callum Hudson-Odoi - Chelsea
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Can Callum Hudson-Odoi switch from England to the Ghana national team? It turns out the Chelsea man can do so, thanks to the updated FIFA rules.

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FIFA’s relaxed rules about players switching national teams mean Callum Hudson-Odoi can represent Ghana at international level.

The winger turned down a call-up to the England Under-21 squad for the international break. He instead opted to ‘work on his development’ at his club, Chelsea. But there is more to it than what meets the eye.

Hudson-Odoi wants senior football and has left the door open to switch allegiance to Ghana, the country his father – former Hearts of Oak midfielder Bismark Odoi – comes from and where he spent time on holiday in the summer.

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Switching national teams is rare in football, but not unheard of. It’s gradually becoming more common, especially as FIFA has made the eligibility rules more flexible.

The FIFA loophole

In September 2020, FIFA’s annual congress approved a rule change to allow players greater scope to switch national teams. The football governing body released a legal handbook detailing the new rules.

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Under the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes – section three on pages 79 to 81 – FIFA would grant a Hudson-Odoi request to switch allegiance from England to Ghana, but only once.

The governing body added three exceptions to the previous rules to allow players to change national teams, even if they have already represented another country at senior level.

In Hudson-Odoi’s case, it would be possible to change national teams if he meets these conditions.

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  1. At the time of being fielded for his first match in an official competition in any kind of football for his current association, he already held the nationality of the association he wishes to represent.
  2. He has never taken part in any kind of competitive matches, like the final of the FIFA World Cup or a final tournament of a confederation competition.
  3. At least three years have passed since his last senior appearance for his current national team.
  4. Played no more than three games at senior level for his current national team, whether competitive or not, before turning 21.

Can Hudson-Odoi play for Ghana?

The 20-year-old has won three caps for England at senior level since debuting in 2019. None of these appearances were in a major tournament. He last represented the Three Lions in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo in November 2019.

Therefore, Hudson-Odoi can represent Ghana but would have to wait until 17 November 2022 – four days before the World Cup in Qatar begins.