Mattia El Hilali rejects Italy for Morocco, angers FIGC

Reuters

Milan - The Italian football federation (FIGC) said it would toughen current rules after Italy under-17 player Mattia El Hilali switched allegiance to Morocco prior to his senior call-up.

"He's the fourth case so far," said the FIGC's youth team co-ordinator Maurizio Viscidi in a report by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We're really bitter about the fact some players are rejecting the Italian national team jersey for personal reasons.

"We consider ourselves a big family, but now if you refuse a call-up to the under-18 squad there will be no place for you in the national set-up after that."

El Hilali, born in Italy to an Italian mother and Moroccan father, has represented Italy at under-17 level but told FIGC bosses last week he now wants to play for Morocco.

It is suspected he was wooed by officials from the Moroccan football federation, but he is not the only player to have ditched Italy after benefiting from the country's facilities and training.

Last year another AC Milan-registered player, Hachim Mastour, switched allegiance to Morocco after, it was reported, he disagreed with playing out of his usual position during an Italy under-16 game.

Pedro Almeida, a former captain of Italy's under-15 side, opted for Portugal while Argentine-born Jose Mauri, another AC Milan recruit, rejected a call-up to Italy's under-20 squad having played previously at under-17 level.

Viscidi added: "It's understandable that a player asks to be transferred from his club. But not a national team player.

"We invest heavily over many years into creating the players possible: if they switch allegiances, we've effectively been working for the benefit of another country."

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Mattia El Hilali rejects Italy for Morocco, angers FIGC
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