Sunday, April 02, 2017


Andri Slammed After Lining Up For Qatar

Andri Syahputra is 17 years old. A mere teenager. Born in Lhokseuwame, Aceh, Andri has spent several years in Qatar. He goes to school there and he is on the books of local side Al Ghafara though unfortunately when I saw them play last season he wasn't in the squad that day.

As part of the PSSI bid to attract young Indonesian talent from among the diaspora Andri was selected for the national team Under 19 squad recently. However the teenager rejected the call up saying his school wouldn't give him the time off to fly back to Indonesia for the training session.

It then appears Andri lined up for the Qatar Under 19 side when they played England Under 18 in a friendly in Doha. This hasn't gone down too well back in Indonesia.

PSSI head Edy Rahmayadi responded to this perceived slight by saying if someone doesn't want to play for the national side when they are called up it would be better if they left Indonesia.

'Representing Indonesia is a jihad,' said Rahmyadi. ' If you don't want to play for Indonesia it means you are not Indonesian. If he(Andri) doesn't want to represent Indonesia get out of Indonesia...if you don't want to represent Indonesia then don't be an Indonesian!'

Even though Andri lined up for Qatar it appears he still holds Indonesian citizenship and an Indonesian passport. Obtaining a Qatari passport would be very difficult, he needs to have lived there for 25 years for a start, Like Indonesia, Qatar does not recognise dual nationality (Indonesia does for children but they must make a decision when they reach a certain age).

In a bid to raise its profile in the sporting world Qatar has been offering a form of citizenship to athletes including footballers over the last few years. A look at the recent Qatar squad that was called up for a World Cup qualifier with Iran shows the presence of a number of non Arab sounding names like Oumar Bari (Guinea), Khalifa Ababacar (Senegal), Pedro Miguel (Portugal) and Luiz Junior (Brazil) among others.

Because Andri only played in a friendly for the Qatar national side chances are he could still be called up by Indonesia in the future. However only time will tell whether he will accept a second call up. Meanwhile we are left to ponder the irony of a football body actively scouting for naturalised players getting upset when one of their own considers a similar path.

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