Qiu Li’s Lions’ place in doubt
The China-born player is currently awaiting clarification on the Fifa circular dated May 30, 2008.
The circular, entitled “Eligibility to play for representative teams”, states that “any player who … assumes a new nationality and who has not played international football in accordance … shall be eligible to play for the new representative team, only if he has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 in the territory of the relevant Association” as opposed to the previous ruling which stated, “… for at least two years an the territory”.
Qiu Li, who arrived in Singapore in February 2005 when he turned out for Sinchi FC, has lived in Singapore for a little over three years.
The 28-year-old received his Singapore citizenship in May this year and made his Lions debut against Bahrain on May 28, two days before the Fifa circular was made public.
Qiu Li, who only arrived in Singapore from China on Friday after attending his grandfather’s funeral, is hoping for the matter to be clarified soon.
Speaking to Today after Friday’s NTUC Income-Yeo’s S-League clash with Albirex Niigata — Tampines won 1-0 — the striker said: “I still don’t know what the decision on the matter is, I hope Fifa will be agreeable to my current status.
“If it they are not then I guess I have no choice. I am very concerned by this and it is not helping my spirit at this time. I have prepared myself mentally for it, but I am still attending the Lions’ centralised training until I get a clarification on this.”
Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic is currently conducting fitness sessions for the national players as the team prepare to defend their Asean crown in December, when the AFF Suzuki Cup kicks off.
When contacted on Friday night, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman, Eric Ong, said: “As far as FAS are concerned, Qiu Li was declared eligible to play for Singapore. He was registered to play in the World Cup qualifiers, which he did. We have informed Fifa accordingly.”
Tampines Rovers’ executive committee member Margaret Poon felt the new rule may not apply to Qiu Li.
“I do not think it is fair,” she said. “This rule should only be applicable to those who gain their eligibility after the rule was implemented.”