mojo13 wrote:Mirotic - just to clarify the naturalization rules have nothing to do with age 14 or "Being in the country".
The rule (as I understand it) is that a player needs to have proof that they acquired citizenship by age 16 to not be considered a naturalized player.
There are no requirements about residing in a country (unless that is a precursor to citizenship). And proof of citizenship is a key - as most if not all countries around the world don't provide you automatic citizenship if you were born outside the country (different from citizenship rights). You may qualify and have a "right" to citizenship but you need to apply or otherwise register that citizenship otherwise how the country even know you exist?
For example - I am a Canadian and my children are born in the U.S. Although they are automatically eligible for Canadian citizenship due to my citizenship, I still need to file paperwork with the government of Canada and get a citizenship certificate (and/or passport). Otherwise how does Canada even know about them?
FIBA is saying this needs to be done prior to age 16 to not be considered "naturalized". This holds true for a child who may have immigrated to a country and later became a citizen. They must have proof of citizenship before age 16.
These Greek players may have a birth right to Greek citizenship, but unless they claim it (register it and get documented proof) before age 16 then they are "naturalized". You may try to find counter-examples but this is a rule enacted 5+ years ago (not sure when) and they grandfathered people in before the rule - like Nick Calathese.
I don't know for sure - but those Nigerian examples all probably got their Nigerian citizenship prior to 16. Or somehow came up with "proof" that they did (I am sure some countries are willing to forge documents).
Personally I think this is a good rule as it cuts down on the shenanigan of loose citizenship for athletes and a free market where the highest bidders land multiple impact players. You still see abusers - I understand some middle east countries are importing very young promising basketball players, getting them citizenship before age 16 in hope they will turnout to be gifted players.
Yeah, those are the listed rules, but something is clearly not jiving. I know that's what FIBA rules say, but the Greek federation claims these different rules. I actually looked this up a little bit a few days ago, and I found similar comments from Spain's federation, although I forgot to bookmark it and can't find it now.
But Spain's federation was pretty much saying the same exact thing. A player has to be in the country by age 14, or they are naturalized for Spain, while some other countries can have 10-12 players that were not in that country. It really makes no sense, compared to FIBA's listed rules, but it seems quite odd that two of the biggest European federations would be saying that, and also basing who can play for their national teams on that.
I also looked at Nigeria's national team, to see if this was true. Sure enough it is. They have often had 10-11 players on their national team that were born and raised in the USA. That was even the case at the 2019 world cup. So something definitely doesn't jive with FIBA's listed rules.
Nigeria's 2019 national team, under FIBA listed rules, only 2 of the players on the team would have actually been eligible to play as natural. So then only one of the other 10 players would have been eligible to play as "naturalized". That mean's just 3 players of the 12 being accounted for under FIBA's listed rules. So somehow, 9 other players played, even though they wouldn't be allowed to under FIBA's rules.
Personally, I really don't care one way or another, if the rules are tightened for naturalized players or loosened. But they really shouldn't be making different standards for different teams. Just looking at that Nigeria example, it's completely ridiculous. They are just using a USA team in every tournament.
Now let's apply these listed FIBA rules to Spain's national team, since that's how I found some other discussion on this. If FIBA's listed rules are true, then both Serge Ibaka and Nikola Mirotic can play together on Spain's national team. However, they have never been allowed to and are both counted as naturalized. Spain has been arguing this and appealing this to FIBA, and FIBA simply refuses. They never allow them to both play on Spain's national team, even though under FIBA's listed rules, both should be able to play.
Ibaka would count as naturalized, because he came to Spain at 17. However, Mirotic would not be counted as naturalized, because he came to Spain at age 15. So, under FIBA's listed rules, Ibaka would take the sole naturalized place, while Mirotic would be counted as a natural player. Hence, they could both play on the national team at the same time.
FIBA has never allowed that, and counts both of them as naturalized. I found some comments from Spain's federation about that, where they said the same exact thing Greece's federation said. Unless a player is in the country at age 14, they are naturalized, and any player that isn't in the country at age 14 cannot play for Spain, unless they count as a naturalized player.
So same exact thing as Greek federation claims, and a very clear and obvious example, where the applied standard does not match at all to what the listed rules are. Because under the listed rules, Mirotic should count as a natural player for Spain. But he doesn't.
So the listed rules simply don't match to how national teams are being governed.
If we just look at this from what seems like a very obvious viewpoint, you have teams like Spain and Greece, that have been ranked in the top 5-10 of the world rankings ever since they started the rankings, then you have a team like Nigeria that has never even gotten remotely close to a top 10 ranking. You have European basketball that is quite developed, while in Africa, the sport is quite under developed. Therefore, Spain doesn't need Ibaka and Mirotic, even though they should have both under the rules. But Nigeria, yeah, they can use any and all the help they can get.
That's absolutely what it looks like, if you break it down. There really is no other reason for them to not allow Mirotic to be a natural player for Spain, unless we want to get into conspiracy theories that Team USA didn't want to face a Spain NT where both Mirotic and Ikaba could play on it. And, it seems pretty clear it has nothing to do with that, when Greece's federation says the same rules about being in the country by age 14 are applied to their players.
As for Calathes and Koufos, before it was said, as you said, that they played before these rules changes, so it didn't matter to them. But I remember that was also clarified that they had been to Greece and filed papers when they were children. Koufos was actually filed right after he was born. So this strangely again makes no sense. Because under the listed rules, they wouldn't be naturalized, but neither of them lived in Greece by age 14, so they should both be naturalized under the rules being applied to these other Greek diaspora players like Mitrou-Long. Yet, Calathes and Koufos are not counted as naturalized.
Another inconsistency......that this was changed 5 years ago, and players before that were grandfathered in. But Michael Bramos played with Greece's national team before that. Well before that actually. He was already on Greece's team and playing games in 2011. The federation is adamant in its comments that he counts as a naturalized player, because he was not living in Greece by age 14.