"It's something I would like to have the option of doing."
Wolverhampton player and captain, Danny Batth, has not been allowed to play for India. Even though he hails from an Indian background.
The footballer had hoped to represent the country in national contests. However, his hopes have been dashed by India’s Sports Ministry policy, which blocked him from playing for the country.
26-year-old Danny Batth, who DESIblitz had hailed as one of the five British-Asian footballers to watch, earlier spoken of his eagerness to play for India.
He said: “There is a lot of representation [people of Indian descent] in England as well, and I’m sure they would love nothing more than seeing someone born in England playing for the national team.”
His father hails from India himself. It’s only natural then to assume the player would have the permission to represent the country. Especially considering he has previously met with the country’s football manager Stephen Constantine at a children’s charity event.
— Danny Batth 'Bart' (@Danny_Batth) May 17, 2017
However, the Indian government have blocked players of Indian descent to represent the country. Not just in football, but in any kind of sport. They made the new policy back in 2008.
The only way they can become allowed to do so involves them becoming citizens of India. They would have to give up their original citizenship.
Despite calls for a review in 2015, the government has not changed the policy. Danny Batth spoke more about his unfortunate situation:
“My dad was born in India and came to England when he was 12 years old. As a product of that, I am half-Indian, so obviously it opens up the opportunity to seek an opportunity to play for the national team.
“It’s something I would like to have the option of doing. I think it’s the only country in the world where they don’t like players from different countries coming back to play and represent them.”
He also revealed that it would seem unlikely he can opt for a full Indian citizenship.
“To register for a passport, you have to be living in the country for a couple of years, that’s a brick wall straight away.
“Then obviously – having an Indian passport and trying to play for a club in England – as I am currently at Wolves, that wouldn’t work either because of the FIFA ranking rules.”
Since the policy’s creation in 2008, many other players have become blocked to represent India. However, ministry officials have defended it, claiming they want to focus on athletes within the country. One official, in particular, explained:
“And that’s the way it should be when we consider that homebred athletes are now doing so well in multi-discipline events such as the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Asian, and Olympic Games. This means a lot is happening at the grassroots.”
It seems then Danny Batth’s dream of representing India will remain unfulfilled for possibly a long time. And while officials appear unwilling to even consider changing the policy, it looks likely to stay put.