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Fredi and Mali

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

We would like to explain the situation regarding Fredi Kanoute and Mali.

As most fans will know, Fredi has been called up to represent Mali at the African Nations Cup in Tunisia, starting on January 24.

Naturally, we don't want to lose a player of Fredi's quality but we would like to explain how it might happen.

Here, Club secretary John Alexander gives us the full rundown on the situation.

"When we signed Fredi back in the summer the FIFA ruling was that if any player played for a country in an 'A' international - by which we mean World Cup Finals or qualifiers, European Championship Finals or qualifiers or any other Confederation's equivalent of the European Championship - then he can only play for that country.

"This principle extended down through all age groups. So for example if a player played for England in the UEFA U21 or U18 Championships that player (even if he had qualifications for other countries) would remain an English player for the rest of his career.

"Fredi had played for France in European Championship games at U21 level and therefore in FIFA's eyes at the point of signing for Tottenham, he was a French player and could only ever be a French player.

"So what has changed since? At it's congress held in Doha on October 19, FIFA decided to change the statute relating to a player's eligibility to play for a national association, the new rule became effective on January 1, 2004.

"So from five days ago, any player under the age of 21 who has played for one country but has dual-nationality and can prove that dual-nationality now has the right to appeal to FIFA to change his country of allegiance.

"Any player over 21 - and this is where the new rule affects Fredi - has until the end of the year to submit to FIFA his application to change his country of allegiance.

"Fredi has parents born in Mali and therefore has dual-nationality and he's now been approached by Mali suggesting he takes advantage of the new rule.

"As a club, we've been in touch with the FA to find out what procedures have to be followed with such an application and how applications will be dealt with by FIFA.

"We've been informed that Fredi, in conjunction with the Mali Federation and the French FA, has to submit a written and substantiated request along with a specified list of documents, all of which will then be put before FIFA's players' status committee. The decision is down to this committee.

"If any player has played in an 'A' international they have no rights to change nationality under this new rule. It's intended only for players who have not played in international matches at the very highest level.

"While any application is being considered, the player cannot play football for his old country or his new country of choice.

"At this point we don't know if Fredi's case has been considered by FIFA and we certainly haven't received any notification that his status as a French player has been revoked.

"We are working closely with the English FA and as soon as we have any definitive news then we will let fans know through the club's official channels."

Our Director of football and acting manager David Pleat stressed: "We fully respect the competition and the country of Mali.

"The critical point and issue for us is that when Fredi signed we had no idea that he would want to play for Mali and, indeed, at that stage, the law did not exist permitting him to do so, nor was there any indication that this situation might change."