Munir El Haddadi will not feature for Morocco at this summer’s World Cup in Russia, after FIFA denied the Alavés forward’s permission to change his international allegiance from Spain.
Born and raised in Spain, the La Liga star requested the move on the grounds that his father was born in the North African country, but the appeal was turned down because of the striker’s previous involvement in a competitive qualifying match for the Iberian nation against Macedonia in 2014.
FIFA regulations state that players who have already represented one country in official competition are denied the right to play for another, a rule which prevents the 22-year-old from transferring to a second international team.
No Munir for Morocco
Following his substitute appearance against Macedonia, which lasted only 13 minutes – his only senior cap for La Roja – El Haddadi revealed that he had never considered playing for Morocco.
Since then, the forward has struggled to force his way into a highly competitive Spanish squad of players.
The two meet at the World Cup, which begins in mid-June, after the two international teams were drawn together in Group B that also includes Portugal and Iran.
For Morocco, it will be their first appearance in the competition since 1998, where they narrowly missed out on progression to the knockout stages.
Both teams finished top of their qualification groups for this year’s main event.
On top for Alavés
The verdict to expel El Haddadi from participation will be seen as a disappointment for Morocco, as it means they will be without a player whose performances have helped Alavés stay clear of La Liga’s relegation zone.
The Barcelona loanee, is the club’s top scorer with six goals in all competitions so far this season.