By Mark Gleeson
DOHA (Reuters) – FIFA on Monday cleared Senegal left back Ismail Jakobs to play for his country at the World Cup, just hours before their opening game at the tournament against the Netherlands.
The former German Under-21 international’s participation had been in doubt after Senegal admitted “administrative problems” with his paperwork but world football’s governing body confirmed a change of association was granted on Monday after a hearing.
The 23-year-old was born in Germany but was persuaded to switch allegiance with the prospect of competing at the World Cup.
Jakobs, who move to Ligue 1’s Monaco from his hometown club FC Cologne last season, played in two friendly internationals for Senegal in September before the country had been granted a switch of allegiance from FIFA.
Players who have represented one country at international level can switch allegiance under FIFA rules if they meet varying criteria, which include also being a citizen of the new country and, in Jakobs’s case, having not played at senior level for Germany.
Senegal Football Federation press officer Aliou Goloko said on Monday there had been problems processing Jakobs’s passport, which had caused the delay.
The incident was an obvious embarrassment and frustration for coach Aliou Cisse on Sunday when questioned about it by reporters at his pre-match news conference.
Jakobs was named among the substitutes on Monday for the Group A game at the Al Thumama Stadium, along with the 20-year-old Anderlecht defender Moussa Ndiaye, who has arrived to take Sadio Mane’s number 10 shirt in the squad after the African Footballer of the Year was forced to withdraw because of injury on the eve of the tournament.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)