Friday, October 7, 2022

Alejandro Zendejas-Mexico case: FIFA to investigate ex-USMNT prospect’s dual national eligibility, per reports

Pumas UNAM v America - Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX
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Alejandro Zendejas is the latest entry in a saga of the dual national tug of war between the United States and Mexico. FIFA, the governing body of world football, is investigating whether or not FMF, the Mexican football federation, breached any rules when they played Zendejas in two friendlies since October 2021. 

FIFA issued the following statement to ESPN Deportes on Friday: “FIFA will investigate this matter. Please understand that we cannot make any further comments at this time.”

The Mexican-born midfielder is a FC Dallas youth prospect who first represented the United States in the U-15 and U-17 levels before making the switch to Mexico at the youth level. Currently playing for Club America, he’s a possible name to replace the injured Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, but was not included in manager Tata Martino’s squad for next week’s friendly against Paraguay in Atlanta.

Had Zendejas and the Mexican federation done everything properly (which may still be up for debate), then Zendejas would have successfully filed a one-time switch to play for Mexico. If the investigation shows that he didn’t, it would against the rules and in theory still make him eligible to represent the United States (or remain with the Mexico).

That led to various reports that the Mexican federation asked him to sign a document renouncing his eligibility for the United States national team. The report says he was told that if he didn’t sign the letter that he wouldn’t be called up but also didn’t guarantee that he’d receive playing time in the September friendlies or at the World Cup. Since he hasn’t decided where his future lies, Zendejas didn’t sign the letter. Outside of the official one-time switch paperwork, there not be any legally binding contracts that Zendejas should have to sign to make his switch.

Herculez Gomez confirmed that there is no such agreement relating to playing for the United States, which adds an additional layer of murkiness to the situation.

It remains to be seen if Mexico violated FIFA rules by fielding Zendejas in this case. What we do know is that if he did file a one-time switch in the past, he would no longer be eligible to suit up for the United States. One of the brightest young talents in Mexico, Zendejas hasn’t officially been on Gregg Berhalter’s radar for a USMNT team that has plenty of depth at winger and we may not know where he stands in the USMNT scope until the dust settles on this FIFA investigation.

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