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Akanji wears Eagles jersey amidst dual nationality protests

Akanji wears Eagles jersey amidst dual nationality protests

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Festus Abu, St. Petersburg

Borussia Dortmund’s rising star Manuel Akanji could be gearing up for a battle with the Switzerland Football Federation   following comments  by the  AFA  General   Secretary Alex Miescher suggesting the country would review its policy on  players with dual citizenship.

Miescher joined the hot debate whether in the country whether  the  national  team having many players  with foreign roots truly reflect the country after the Red Crosses were sent packing from Russia 2018 World Cup after losing 1-0 to Sweden in their  second round fixture at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3.

And Swiss-born Nigerian AKanji, who is one of the revelations of Russia 2018, has subtly indicated that he is not ready to deny his Nigerian roots for the sake of playing for Switzerland  by publicly identifying with the Super Eagles.

No fewer than 12 of the players who played for Switzerland in Russia were  either born abroad or have immigrant  parents.

Granit Xhaka and XherdanShaqiri , who are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, were fined by FIFA for making hand gestures of an Albanian national symbol to celebrate goals  in the 2-1 defeat of  Serbia on July 6.

 “That incident shows that there’s a problem. We have to ask ourselves: do we want dual nationals?,” Miescher was quoted by Tages-Anzeiger as saying.

He said the federation could offer its support programme for young players only to those who drop their second nationality.

The federation, who distanced themselves from Miescher’s comments, however said they  had  only been considering getting young players to give up their second nationality when joining the national team training programme.

The development has elicited a groundswell of criticism with football fans in the country taking to Twitter to  make biting comments about the move to stop players with dual citizen from representing Switzerland.

Versatile Switzerland defender Akanji, who was born to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother, has added fuel to the fire by posting his picture on his Instagrampage wearing the Super Eagles’ jersey in Ibiza, Spain, where he has been holidaying since the Swiss crashed out of the World Cup.

The 22-year-old wrote, “There were so many emotions during this World Cup, ups and downs, but in the end I‘m really proud and happy to have played my first World Cup. I hope it wasn‘t the last one, thank you Switzerland for the support. We will come back stronger.”

Although Akanji did comment on the issue of dual citizenship,  he has been under criticism in the social media and Swiss press  for his Instagram post.

Some of his critics have questioned his loyalty, though they condemn the  football  federation for its move.

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