The head coach of the Russian national football team Valery Karpin is ready to call the Zenit midfielders to the national team.
Malcolm and Claudinho are now officially citizens of Russia. Today, February 24, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to a list of 38 people, and among these were Zenit midfielders. The Petersburg club quickly reacted to the news on social networks, congratulating two of its brightest stars on their new status.
And what will the naturalization of Brazilians give Russian football? The main question is whether Malcolm and Claudinho can play for the Russian team.
The story lasted about six months. For the first time, information about the filing of applications by Brazilian legionnaires for a Russian passport appeared in September 2022. Then it was associated with the desire of the players to spend less on taxes.
This was indirectly confirmed by the head coach of Zenit Sergei Semak, who said about Malcolm and Claudinho:
"The fact that the guys want to get Russian citizenship is wonderful.
They can get preferences. Which? Taxes. We and William (the coach of
Zenit), received a Russian passport. They like to live in Russia.
What's wrong with that?"
Malcolm and Claudinho were no help to the Russian national team. After all, both played for the Brazilian Olympic team. As part of the Selesao, Zenit midfielders won the 2020 Olympics, and Malcolm even became the author of the winning goal in the final with Spain. But for the first team of Brazil, neither one nor the other did not play. Malcolm was called up in October 2018 for friendly matches against Saudi Arabia and Argentina but played both games on the bench. Head coach Tite, in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, did not remember the Zenit team even after the Olympics. However, he invited only some of the star players from the Brazilian championship to the Selesao.
Valery Karpin, in September 2022, responded to the question about calling Malcolm and Claudinho with the phrase, "I know for sure that this is impossible."
Claudinho, in an interview in November 2022, did not give a clear answer to the question about a possible performance for the Russian national team:
"I hear from many people that Malcolm and I can get Russian
citizenship, and if it's better for the club, there is no problem for
us to get a Russian passport. After all, this will free up several
places for legionnaires and allow the club to invite other foreign
players. But saying I want to play for the Russian national team would
be wrong. On the contrary, Russian football players should play for
the Russian team. At the moment, I don't think about it at all."
But everything was not as it looked at first glance. According to the general director of Zenit, Alexander Medvedev, since neither FIFA nor UEFA are the organizers of the Olympics, Malcom and Claudinho will be able to play for the Russian team. You only need to live in our country for five years.
A few days ago, the RFU, amid talk about the performance of Malcolm and Claudinho for the Russian national team, made an official statement:
"First of all, to establish whether Malcolm and Claudinho have the
right to play for the Russian national team and cease to be considered
legionnaires, an official letter from the Brazilian Football
Confederation is needed, which will indicate the matches of these
players for the national team. Based on information in open sources,
if Malcolm and Claudinho receive Russian citizenship, there is a
theoretical possibility that they can play for the Russian national
football team and will no longer be considered legionnaires.
Malcolm played for the Brazilian national team in official tournaments under the auspices of FIFA (not category A). Therefore, for him to play for the Russian national team and not be considered a legionnaire, he will need to go through the procedure for changing sports citizenship through the Chamber according to the status of the FIFA football tribunal. In this case, the condition of a five-year residence in the territory of Russia must be observed. Thus, a potential appeal to the FIFA chamber can be sent by 2024, provided that until then, he will not play for the Brazilian national team.
The change of sports citizenship of Claudinho does not require an appeal to the Chamber for the status of FIFA players since he did not participate in official matches for the national team under the organization's auspices. At the same time, the acquisition of the right to play for the national team, according to FIFA regulations, can be obtained no earlier than 2026, that is, after five years of residence in Russia and subject to the absence of games for the Brazilian national team during this period.
According to some reports, the FIFA rule regarding the five-year residence of players in the country can be circumvented if the Brazilian Football Confederation makes a request. And this request, according to the source, will be sent. In this case, there is a chance to see Malcolm and Claudinho in the Russian national team ahead of the deadline indicated by the RFU.
Another thing is whether it is generally correct to invite naturalized foreigners. Still, the competitions of national teams are competitions of football schools, and it is more interesting to understand what level of players we have brought up. However, Karpin is ready to call Malcolm and Claudinho to the Russian team, judging by his later comments.