Mikel Arteta’s hopes of playing for England appear to have been dashed as a result of a little known FIFA rule.
Born in Spain, the 28-year-old Everton midfielder had hoped to qualify for England after completing five years residency in the United Kingdom.
However, because Arteta has played for Spain at junior level, he would have had to have held a British passport at the same time in order to be eligible.
“Our understanding is he is ineligible to play,” say the Football Association.
Article 18.1.a within the Fifa statutes outlines that any player who has represented their country in an official competition, at whatever level, would at that time need to have held a passport for the country they later wish to play for in order to be permitted to make the switch.
Arteta played for Spain in the Under-16 European Championships and then in the FIFA World Championships at Under-17 level.
Areteta joined Everton on loan in 2005 from Real Sociedad in Spain before signing permanently a year later.
Last week Arteta, who has never played for Spain at senior level, said he would consider a call-up to play for England.
The FA stressed they had not been asked to investigate the matter by England manager Fabio Capello, although it was reported that the England coach had spoken briefly to Arteta.