World football’s governing body FIFA has approved a change of football citizenship for Igor Matanović, who now has the right to play for Croatia, the Croatian Football Federation confirmed on Tuesday.
The 1.94 metre-tall, 19-year-old striker plays for FC St. Pauli on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt. He was born in Hamburg and has represented Germany at international youth level, however, he decided that he wanted to represent Croatia and the Croatian Football Federation initiated proceedings before FIFA in order to change his football citizenship and give him the right to play for Croatia.
FIFA approved the change on Tuesday and confirmed that Matanović can immediately play for Croatia. Croatian U-21 coach Igor Bišćan has called him up for the upcoming Euro qualifying matches in Norway and Estonia.
“I am extremely glad that the procedure before FIFA has been successfully completed and that Croatia will be stronger in the future for another talented player who is looking forward to wearing the Croatian shirt. I want to thank all the officials in the Croatian Football Federation for an excellent job, starting with the technical director Stipe Pletikosa and the U-21 coach Igor Bišćan, who, along with the secretary of the younger age groups Josip Tomašek, actively participated in this process from the very beginning,” said the president of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustić, before adding.
“It is also worth mentioning Ivica Olić, who made quality contact with Igor and his family, and I am sure that the inclusion of the selector Zlatko Dalić also played a very important role. We showed great unity, everyone got involved and obviously Igor and his family recognised that.”
“Of course, we are extremely pleased that FIFA made such a decision in Matanović’s case. I am sure that with his football knowledge and skills he can immediately make a great contribution to the further success of Croatian national teams, and his right to play for Croatia is a successful continuation of the Croatian Football Federation’s efforts for quality players from the diaspora to play in our shirt.
Stanišić, Sučić, Vidović and Pašalić have already made great gains, and we will continue to work in that direction. With all deserving individuals in the Federation, from the selectors Dalić and Bišćan through Ivica Olić to President Kustić who gives us great support in these activities, it is worth thanking the lawyers who prepared excellent documentation and presented the whole case to FIFA’s body and enabled this decision to be made,” pointed out technical director Stipe Pletikosa.
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