Qiu Li not eligible to represent Singapore
FIFA has informed FAS that Qiu Li will not be eligible to represent Singapore until he has satisfied the new five-year residential requirement that was passed by the FIFA Congress on 30 May 2008. He will satisfy this requirement only in January 2010.
FAS had earlier appealed to FIFA on 4 November to take into consideration the fact that Qiu Li had been granted Singapore citizenship on 5 May 2008, prior to the amendments to the relevant Regulations with regard to the eligibility of naturalised citizens to play for their new association. He has also been living in Singapore continuously since January 2005, thereby fulfilling the then-prevailing minimum 2-year residency requirement.
We also informed FIFA that AFC had declared him eligible to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (Asian Zone) Round 3 and Qiu Li was then duly registered. Qiu Li then made his debut in an international ‘A’ friendly against Bahrain on 28 May and appeared in three of Singapore’s four World Cup Qualifiers in June.
However, in their reply to FAS, FIFA reaffirmed that Qiu Li had to satisfy the new five-year residential requirement required under the amended version of Article 17(d) of the Regulations. FIFA was of the view that Qiu Li had not played in a match in an official competition of any category for Singapore prior to the coming into force of the amended residential requirement that was approved by the FIFA Congress on 30 May 2008. FIFA did not consider the officially-sanctioned game against Bahrain as such a game.This is notwithstanding the fact that it was an important and competitive warm-up game for the World Cup Qualifying games that followed.
FIFA had emphasised in their letter to FAS that: “Please remain assured that we do understand that the player, Qiu Li, and the Football Association of Singapore may feel dissatisfied about the situation regarding the player in question, however, only a strict application of the amendments to articles 15-18 of the Regulations will safeguard the principle of equal treatment of all members of the football family. “
With this decision, Qiu Li will not be eligible to represent the country at the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup. Qiu Li’s place in the squad will now be taken by SAFFC winger Mustaqim Manzur. The 26-year-old has five senior caps to his name and will be involved in the biennial championships for the first time with the Lions.
Said FAS General Secretary Winston Lee, “We are very disappointed with this outcome. We had requested FIFA not to retroactively declare Qiu Li ineligible to represent Singapore. We felt that even though Qiu Li had not represented Singapore in a game in an official competiton, he had represented Singapore in a competitive FIFA-sanctioned friendly against Bahrain before the new rules kicked in. Moreover, AFC had earlier confirmed that Qiu Li was eligible to represent Singapore in the World Cup Qualifiers to be held in June 2008. We will now have to study FIFA’s reply carefully before deciding on our next course of action.
National Coach Radojko Avramovic said, “Qiu Li had made his debut for us in an official FIFA-sanctioned ‘A’ international against Bahrain on 28 May with that result counting towards official FIFA world ranking points. I think this has been very confusing. What I do not understand is how in May, AFC had sent us a letter to confirm his eligibility and now in November they send us another letter to deny his eligibility based on a technicality.
“After losing Hariss, Fazrul and Amri, Qiu Li is another big loss as he means a lot to this team. From now, it is up to the other players to take the step up and do more and compensate for the absences. There is no point thinking about the players who will not be with us. This is the reality and with the players we have, we must rely on our strong teamwork and do our best for Singapore.”
The National Team management broke the news to the Tampines Rovers forward last night. He will now take a short break before returning to begin pre-season training to prepare for the new season.
Said Qiu Li, “I’m very sad that I will not be with the team to defend our title. However, even though I will not be there, my heart will be with the boys and I’m confident they will do well. I’ll continue to train hard and I look forward to representing Singapore again.”