Ivory Coast-born Coulibaly's World Cup bid with Tunisia blocked

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Fousseny Coulibaly
Esperance midfielder Fousseny Coulibaly was born in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast-born Fousseny Coulibaly will not go through the process of naturalisation for Tunisia citizenship and will miss the World Cup finals in Russia.

The 25-year-old midfielder was handed a call-up and trained with the Tunisian squad in January, as he awaited a decision on his citizenship request.

It was reported in the local media that the country's Justice Ministry had turned down the 'implausible' request for Coulibaly's nationality, which the Tunisian Federation (FTF) has denied.

"Contrary to what has been widely reportedly on the internet, the Ministry of Justice did not reject the naturalisation of Coulibaly, but the FTF decided to withdraw the naturalisation file," the FTF said in a statement. external-link

"We sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice to inform them that Coulibaly will not be included in the next squad, because he will not render exceptional service to the national team at this time."

The Esperance star was encouraged in early December to apply for Tunisian naturalisation after impressing the country's national coach Nabil Maaloul.

Had Coulibaly succeeded with the naturalisation application in Tunisia, he would still need clearance from Fifa in order to swap allegiances from Ivory Coast.

He played for Ivory Coast in a 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Nigeria in July 2013.

Shortly after that in August 2013 Coulibaly joined Tunisian side US Monastir and has been in the country ever since but is yet to satisfy another Fifa regulation.

Football's world governing body says any player acquiring a new citizenship needs to have "lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant association."

Coulibaly, who has also played for Stade Tunisien, has been impressive for Esperance in recent years.

He helped them win the Tunisian Cup in 2016, the Tunisian League and Arab Champions League titles in 2017.

Top Stories