There is now a restraining order between the words “Sharbini” and “Palestine”

UPDATE: A lot of what has been posted here no longer applies. FIFA statutes have changed, an it does seem that both Sharbinis are being courted by the Jordanian FA. For more info read this blogpost:

As far as I’m concerned, there is no conversation to be had here. For the past two years, I’ve heard over and over about how both these Croatian-born brothers, Ahmad and Anas Sharbini, were going to play for Palestine. Rumors started in 2007 and there were news stories in Arabic press to back them up, as well. Both brothers were supposed to get their first caps for Palestine in the 2007 World Cup Qualifier against Singapore. As the date drew near, the fabricators of the story fabricated another over the top story claiming that Anas and Ahmad received death threats from Croatian extremists and would not be playing in the Singapore game.

Since then, the story has been given new life and it now seems that every Football Association in the Mediterranean region has a claim on these brothers. After the hoopla with our national team died down, the brothers linked with potentially representing the Syria internationally, as their father was born there, it would be relatively easy to issue them passports. But wait, there’s more! A couple of days ago the notoriously unreliable rumor mill that is started claiming that the brothers were in talks to join the Jordanian National Team, the fabricators of that story neglect to mention that the brothers have absolutely no Jordanian heritage . So allow me to tell you, there is absolutely no chance that the Sharbini brothers will represent Palestine, Syria, or even Jordan for that matter.

Anas and Ahmad have represented Croatia at youth level and since both are over the age of 21, they cannot switch allegiances. I think many people are unaware of the new rules that came into effect last year. Unlike when the rule was first introduced, there are now limitations put in place to stop teams like Qatar from exploiting young foreign players. So although Fredric Kanoute switched allegiances from France to Mali in 2004 at the age of 27 there is no chance of this happening now. According to the FIFA webpage, the new FIFA Statutes were amended in May of 2008 and came into full effect in August of last year.

Article 18 now states:

If a Player has more than one nationality, or if a Player acquires a new nationality, or if a Player is eligible to play for several representative teams due to nationality, he may, up to his 21st birthday, and only once, request to change the Association for which he is eligible to play international matches to the Association of another country which he holds nationality

So there you have it. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200. We do wish both brothers the best of luck, they are Croatian born and have a Croatian mother so it makes sense for them to represent Croatia. Look at this way: If Croatia and Chile both qualify we could see three Palestinians (the other being Colo-Colo’s Daud Gazalé) playing in next year’s World Cup.