The real deal with Alphonse Areola and how he can still switch to Azkals

July 17, 2018 - 3:26 PM
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France's goalkeeper Alphonse Areola kisses the winner's trophy in the grounds of the Elysee Presidential Palace during an official reception, after French players won the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match, in Paris, France July 16, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters)

A Filipino is a World Cup winner but not everyone is celebrating French reserve goalkeeper Alphonse Areola’s chance to hold up the most coveted trophy in the football world.

While he is receiving praise from Filipino shores some fans are doubting whether this is the right time for ‘pinoy pride.’

‘Pinoy pride’ in the World Cup

French Ambassador to the Philippines Nicolas Galey congratulated the multi-ethnic members of the French squad in a statement and local media outlets and football fans have been abuzz over the thought of someone from the Pearl of the Orient winning in the world’s most popular sport.

The 25-year old Areola was born to Filipino parents who migrated to France.

Areola is a goalkeeper for powerhouse club Paris St. Germain of France’s Ligue 1, but is reportedly in talks to transfer to AS Roma of Italy’s Serie A next season.

Despite the jubilation, not everyone agrees that bringing up Areola’s Filipino origins is worth the time.

For some fans, Areola, who was born in France and who has never played a minute of football for the Philippines, in no way represented the country with the win.

Areola’s name in the foreign discussion in fact does not revolve around his ethnicity, but his winning a World Cup despite having yet to earn a “cap” referring to actual playing time for one’s national squad during an international match.

Areola is the third-choice goalie after French captain Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda.

His lack of international caps in the senior level may give him the chance to switch to the Philippine Azkals, as some football writers have argued.

Kevin Leong of Fox Sports Asia in a recent article argued that Areola, having technically not yet debuted for France at the senior level, may still switch to the Azkals since he has only appeared for France on the youth level.

In 2011, Areola, then a star for the French youth squad, was invited by Azkals team manager Dan Palami to play for the Philippines but focused on his career with France instead.

Under FIFA rules on national team eligibility, a player with “more than one nationality; acquired a new nationality; or are eligible to represent more than one association due to their nationality can change national team.”

According to the same rules, only a cap at the senior level can tie a player to the current national team he plays for. Areola has not been capped for France, despite being part of the World Cup squad.

Areola reportedly still recognizes his Filipino roots and still holds a special place in his heart for the Philippines and its football scene.