Chopra urged to attain Indian passport

In a series of posts on social media, the former Newcastle United and Sunderland player has expressed interest to turn out for the Blue Tigers..

Michael Chopra and time and again spoken of his interest to don the Blue jersey of India. 

After India's surprising loss in their 2018 World Cup Pre-Qualifier against Guam, the 31-year-old striker, who turned out for Kerala Blasters in last season's Indian Super League (ISL) took to social media to explain his anguish. 

Concurrently, he re-iterated his interest in turning up for the Blue Tigers

The former Newcastle United striker whose grandparents moved to England from Punjab, had previously represented England from the U16s to U20s. 

Last year Chopra had mentioned of his desire to give up his British passport in order to be eligible to play for India.

"I was going to play for them four years ago. But at that time I was only 26 and I was too young to give up my British passport and travel around the world at that age. I just had a little boy that was born and things like that, so it would have been difficult. My boy is six now and he has grown up and understands what his dad has got to do. So I plan to move to India and give up my British citizenship and get an Indian passport to play for the national team and take them forward," said the former Cardiff man.

Chopra has now demanded that the rules be amended so as to allow Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) to be eligible to play in the Indian team. 

The term 'OCI' is defined by the Government of India as "Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) of certain categories who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country, other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible to be granted an OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws."

OCIs hold no passports and are not eligible to vote or hold government jobs or positions in India. Indian citizenship is compulsory when representing the country in any sporting platform.

All India Football Federation's (AIFF) senior vice-president, Subrata Dutta mentioned that the Indian FA cannot amend or convince the government to alter the rules.

"The Indian government requires a player to hold an Indian passport to be eligible for the team. The AIFF can do nothing about it," Dutta told Goal.

"Selection issues are exclusively in the domain of head coach, Stephen Constantine. AIFF has no role to play in it," when quizzed about Chopra's desire to don the Blue shirt. 

The comparison with Guam in this situation is irrelevant as they are recognized by the United Nations as an 'organized, unincorporated territory of the United States' and hence it is very easy for US born players to represent the Matao

For inspiration, Chopra does not have to look beyond Arata Izumi who had given up his Japanese citizenship in January, 2013 and became the first foreign-born player to play for the Blue Tigers, by adopting Indian citizenship. The Pune FC midfielder had then gone on to represent India on nine occasions. 

If Chopra truly wants to make himself eligible for selection, he needs to come good on his word, which was spoken only about six months back and discard his British passport for the Indian variety.