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Rogelio Funes Mori becomes eligible for the Mexican National Team

Funes Mori got his Mexican citizenship and switched from Argentina to Mexico because of the new rule changes.

Monterrey v Atletico San Luis - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Rogelio Funes Mori has been declared eligible to play for the Mexican national team after completing his process of naturalization and completing the one time switch from the Argentine federation to the Mexican federation. Born in Argentina and raised in Texas, Funes Mori benefit from a change of rule that allows him to file a one time switch. Funes Mori was ineligible before after taking part in the U20 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers.

After a youth career that included a time in the United States, Funes Mori came along with his twin brother, Ramiro Funes Mori through River Plate in his native Argentina. After a good tenure there, he was called up for the Argentina U20 team that played in the World Cup qualifiers, scoring twice. He was good enough to play a friendly against Brazil with the senior NT. After a disappointing spell in Benfica and then a season in Turkey, Funes Mori arrived in Monterrey in 2015. While his brother Ramiro was good enough to have a career in Everton and later Villarreal and make the Argentina National Team, playing in two Copa America tournaments, Rogelio was totally off of the radar for Argentina. In Monterrey however he became a star with the team, where he currently is tied along with Humberto “Chupete” Suazo as the leading scorer in Monterrey’s team history. With the talent shown in Mexico and without the possibility of getting called up to Argentina, Funes Mori talked about joining the Mexican national team as a naturalized citizen, but his playing time in the U20 World Cup qualifiers denied him. The rules were that for a player to be able to make a switch of national team he would have to have five years lived in the nation he naturalizes for after turning 18 and to not have played an official game with another federation unless he had that nationality when he played those games. As Funes Mori didn’t have a Mexican nationality it made him ineligible (something that a Mexican American player or a player from African descent in Europe would have allowing him to be able to switch).

In 2020, FIFA changed the rules which meant that a player would only be cap-tied for a switch by playing three cap-tied games after turning 21. This meant that Funes Mori’s tenure in the Argentina national team no longer cap-tied him since he was under 21 and his only senior national team appearance was a friendly (and had it been official, it was only one cap). This meant that since Funes Mori has lived in Mexico for five years after turning 18, he could make the switch if he was naturalized. With the possibility, he started the process of naturalizing as Mexican (something strange as according to Mexican law, he would have been able to start this process after living for two years in Mexico). Coach Gerardo Martino said he was interested in the player but wouldn’t say anything official until Funes Mori got his Mexican citizenship. This week arrived and he was able to file his one time switch in record time to be eligible for the Mexican national team. According to rumors, the Mexican FA had made the paper work before and thus FIFA was only waiting on the citizenship to approve, which is why it could be so soon. It also shows that while many criticize the federation, they were right on top of things this time.

With Funes Mori being eligible, there are strong possibilities he would make the squad for the Gold Cup. There has been a lot of criticism of a possible call up from a lot of fans and even some ex-players, but it looks like Martino is set on calling him. The fact is that although he has to prove himself in the international game, he has done better recently in his club play that Alan Pulido and Henry Martin, the two forwards who have taken the place of the injured Raul Jimenez. It was especially notable when both played poorly in the CONCACAF Nations League, which lead to Martino once again using Hirving Lozano in the forward spot, a position he doesn’t regularly play at. Also the possibility that Henry Martin will take part of the Olympic games as an over-age player also meant that Mexico will need somebody, and it all points to Funes Mori taking the place. Funes Mori will be the first naturalized player in an international competition for Mexico since the 2015 Copa America where Matias Vuoso played and scored twice.