Big blow for Nigeria, Britain as Balogun opts for USA



Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun has chosen to represent the United States national team after rejecting a future with England and Nigeria.

FIFA confirmed on Tuesday it has approved a request by the US Soccer Federation to change Balogun’s national eligibility from England, the country he has represented at youth level.

Balogun, born in Brooklyn, New York to UK-based Nigerian parents who were holidaying in the United States at the time of his birth, has been in demand after a breakout season in France on loan to Reims from Arsenal. He has so far scored 19 goals in the French Ligue 1.

“My parents were on holiday there for a few months because we have family in New York,” Balogun said in an interview with the Ligue 1 website this season. “But very soon after I was born, we all moved back to London.”

Balogun, 21, also acknowledged: “London is my city, it’s where I grew up, where my friends are, and if people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m English. But, yes, I am a mixture of all these cultures.”

Balogun’s decision to represent the United States comes five weeks before England plays in the Under-21 European Championship being hosted by Romania and Georgia. The English Football Association also had to consent to the change of eligibility.

FIFA rules allow players to change national eligibility before playing in a competitive game at senior level.

The US courted Balogun on a visit to Florida in March and can select him for the CONCACAF Gold Cup which it hosts from June 24 to July 16.



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