Dual Nationality being banned in the country is being said to close doors on the closest path to the World Cup.
Dual Nationality Dilemma
India’s national football team is ranked 99th in the world. The country’s large population of 1.4 billion means there is great potential for growth. However, India’s policy bars players of Indian heritage playing abroad from representing the national team.
Calls for Change
There have been calls from fans, the media, and coaches for India to change its rules and allow overseas players to represent the country. Moreover, players like Yan Dhanda and Dilan Markanday, who play professionally in Europe, would strengthen the national team. Additionally, the All India Football Federation plans to present data to the government showing the benefits of changing the dual nationality policy.
Neighbors Lead the Way
Neighboring countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh allow dual nationality. Their national teams now include players from European leagues, benefiting their international performance. India risks falling further behind in the region if it maintains the status quo.
The Road to the World Cup
Increasing Asia’s World Cup spots from 4 to 8 improves India’s chances of qualification significantly. Furthermore, relaxing dual nationality rules could further boost India’s likelihood of reaching the 2026 World Cup in North America. Notably, qualification begins in November 2022. While reaching the second round will be tough, the introduction of dual nationality could potentially help India compete at a higher level.
Homegrown Talent is still key
Despite potential gains from overseas players, developing domestic talent remains crucial. National team captain Sunil Chhetri says bringing in foreign-born players should complement long-term youth development. A balance is required between short-term boosts and sustaining grassroots growth.
Time is Ticking
The upcoming qualification cycle is an opportunity for change. If India can navigate red tape and amend rules before September 2024, players like Batth and Dhanda may opt to represent their ancestry’s homeland.India must act fast to take advantage of its vast diaspora talent.