This thesis has analysed the football nationality choices of professional football players which are of Yugoslav descent. Concepts such as state citizenship and national eligibility criteria as well as the role of international organisations such as FIFA have been key in the examination and assessment of these football players’ decisions. The Yugoslavian diaspora has been known to be widespread in both Europe and overseas. Many Yugoslav people have left the country in the post-war era with the aim of seeking work and a better life abroad. Next to that, since the dissolution of the Yugoslavian state in the early 1990s, many Yugoslav people found themselves fleeing their homeland, mostly due to the circumstances of war and violence. As a result, many people of Yugoslav descent have settled abroad which has - in some cases - caused for their offspring to find themselves in a situation in which they have the possibility of holding plural citizenship based on their location of birth as well as through parentage. Having several citizenship possibilities can cause for interesting situations to occur, especially in the case of professional football players, who are subject to the national eligibility rules and regulations as formulated by FIFA, if they wish to represent a country and participate on the highest level: World and European championships. As FIFA only allows players to represent just one nation in their active career, the football nationality choice is a permanent one. Many football players might hence find themselves at a career cross point. Football players of Yugoslav descent, however, have another important factor to consider; Yugoslavia, their (grand)parents’ former country, does no longer exist. The country started to fall apart in the early 1990s and currently, as much as seven post-Yugoslav states have emerged. This unique situation causes for football players of Yugoslav descent to have even more nationality options. This thesis has selected and analysed the nationality choices of 53 football players of Yugoslav descent and has provided interesting insights, for instance that the majority of cases has chosen to represent their country of birth as opposed to their (grand)parents’ country of origin which can be explained by the aspect of distance, since many Australian born football players were engaged. Another interesting finding is that the role of national governments and national football associations has proven to be of high relevance in many nationality choices as these actors tend to actively lobby for and scout talents. Finally, state citizenship as the possession of a passport has shown to be of lesser importance. More results and findings can be consulted in the research.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Citizenship, national representation, football, FIFA, nationality choice, former Yugoslavia, Yugoslav descent.
Thesis Advisor G. Oonk
Persistent URL
Series Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society
B. de Jong. (2019, July 15). Choosing sides CITIZENSHIP OPTIONS AND NATIONAL ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF YUGOSLAV DESCENT. Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society. Retrieved from