FAM rejects Congolese player who claimed Sabah heritage

There have been concerns over foreign players claiming Malaysian heritage seeking to enter Harimau Malaya or state and club teams. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has rejected an attempt to obtain citizenship by a Congolese defender claiming Malaysian heritage.

FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam said Marcel Kalonda, 22, claimed that his father and grandfather were from Sabah.

However, the National Registration Department found that Kalonda had used an invalid document in what FAM said was an attempt to enter the national team.

Ramalingam said FAM had also sought the assistance of the Congo Football Association and consulate to verify Kalonda’s claim.

Kalonda’s case caused worry over video gamers acting as talent scouts to bring foreigners with ancestral ties to Malaysia into Harimau Malaya as well as state and club teams.

A screenshot of the blog post by gamer Zulkifli Malik, recommending Marcel Kalonda.

Kalonda, who turned out for Zambia’s Zesco United in the Confederation of African Football Champions League, was recommended by a local gamer, Zulkifli Malik.

Zulkifli had written about Kalonda in an entry in a football blog titled “A Malayan tiger in Zambia. My name is Marcel Kalonda and I am Malaysian”.

He also recommended a player from New Zealand, Harry Edge, while another unidentified gamer chanced on England-based Kobe Jae Chong.

Ramalingam yesterday advised football fans against getting overly excited about a player with Malaysian ancestral background, saying foreign players seeking Malaysian citizenship would be subject to strict screening.

He said their performance would also be evaluated by technical experts.

Under Fifa rules, players must have a parent or grandfather born in the country that they wish to represent.

Foreign-born players must live in the country of their choice for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 without having played for another national team.

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