Shortly after FIFA announced its intention to abolish the age limit at which players could switch national teams, Shalke 04 midfielder Jermaine Jones made public his desire to play for the U.S. national team. The 27-year-old has only played in friendlies for Germany and so is still eligible for a one-time national team switch.
“Now that I have a chance to play for America, I want to play for the States,” Jones told the New York Times soccer blog. “Now with the new rule from FIFA, they said I can play for the States. I am one-half American and one-half German and now I want to play for the U.S.”
The son of an American serviceman and a German woman, Jones has spent his professional soccer career in Germany, lining up for Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, and Schalke in a holding midfield position.
He has earned a rough image in Germany for his tattoos and quick tongue. Part of the reason for his desired switch is that he sees more possibilities for acceptance in the United States.
“I’m a player when you see me I have tattoos and in Germany the people maybe don’t like that stuff,” he said. “When I want to say something, then I say it. In Germany, it is all about the team and now there are more players who say nothing. Maybe this is the problem with me. I thought I maybe would have a chance with the national team of Germany. But for me, now this is over.
“When somebody looks at me, I’m not the perfect German. When I look at people in the States, they look more like me. In Germany with my tattoos people say, ‘Ooh, he’s not a good man.’ But look at Beckham, he has tattoos and no one says that. Maybe because I don’t have blue eyes and blonde hair. But that is not a problem for me. I don’t have a good feeling about stuff in Germany.
“It is funny because in Germany they do not like different guys like me. I have so much people who don’t like it. When I say something I think is right they say ‘you can’t say that. Why you say that. You can think it, but don’t say it.’ ”
It's unclear when Jones would be eligible to play for the United States. He has hired a legal team to work on processing the paperwork with FIFA, but the Gold Cup may come too soon for the Bundesliga star.
“We are not sure if the rule change is immediate, could happen in 60 days or what,” said Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. “We’ve known about Jones, and Bob [Bradley] and I have talked with his representatives. But that was before the rule changed. We could benefit from this, but the details still need to be worked out.”
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