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Highly-rated Sevilla midfielder Ryan Johansson wins long battle to represent Ireland

The former Bayern Munich midfielder has won a lengthy battle with Fifa.

File photo of Ryan Johansson, playing for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund.
File photo of Ryan Johansson, playing for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund.
Image: Imago/PA Images

HIGHLY-RATED SEVILLA midfielder Ryan Johansson has won his battle to represent the Republic of Ireland, with new Fifa rules surrounding nationality ruling in his favour. 

Johansson was born in Luxembourg to a Swedish father and a mother whose parents hail from Mullingar, and was initially eligible to represent Ireland, Sweden, and Luxembourg.  

He represented Luxembourg at U21 level but indicated his preference was to play for Ireland, and played in a series of friendlies for Tom Mohan’s U19 side in 2018.

However, the Luxembourg FA subsequently questioned Johansson’s eligibility for Ireland, raising with Fifa the fact Johansson had represented Luxembourg before he had acquired an Irish passport. A 2019 appeal to Fifa by the family and the FAI was unsuccessful on these grounds, and the player’s agent said he would instead represent Sweden. 

Fifa, however, changed their rules surrounding eligibility last year, which now allow players to switch their allegiance even if they did not hold that nationality of the country to which they want to switch at the time of playing for the initial nation. 

Johansson’s family were informed by the FAI yesterday that the new rules have resulted in a successful appeal, and the midfielder is now free to represent Ireland. 

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Irish U21 manager Jim Crawford has been in regular contact with Johansson and his family over the last year, and he is now in contention for inclusion in the U21 squad for a triple-header of summer friendlies against Switzerland, Australia, and Denmark in Marbella next month. 

Johansson is based close to Marbella now, having left Bayern Munich for Sevilla in January 2020. The midfielder signed a six-year deal at the Spanish club, and has spent this season at their ‘B’ side, Sevilla Atletico, in the Segunda Division. A hamstring injury has greatly interrupted his season, however, and he hasn’t played since last December. 

The Johansson case is seen as a significant test case for the FAI regarding players with dual eligibility, and success on this front may pave the way for other players declaring for Ireland who were hitherto tangled in similar scenarios, such as Daniel Crowley of Birmingham City. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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