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Brazil wants to void Costa’s citizenship for snub

October 30, 2013

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian football wants Diego Costa’s Brazilian citizenship to be voided because the striker chose to snub Brazil and play for Spain.

The federation’s legal department told local media on Wednesday it has grounds to ask the justice ministry to strip Diego Costa of his citizenship because of his rejection of the national team.

The federation doesn’t want Diego Costa playing for Spain and said it was taking the case seriously and will act with all of its force to keep the same thing from happening again.

The Brazilians accused Spain of pressuring Diego Costa, and said the Spanish-based player made his pick for financial reasons.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was forced to drop Diego Costa from the squad after the player announced he wanted to play for Spain instead of his native country. Diego Costa holds a Spanish passport, having moved to Spain in 2007.

“The president (of the Brazilian federation) has authorized me to make a request to the justice ministry to have Diego Costa lose the Brazilian citizenship that he rejected,” federation legal director Carlos Eugenio Lopes told O Globo newspaper.

Lopes said the request can be made based on an article of the constitution which says that Brazilians may lose their citizenship if they earn another nationality without meeting certain requirements to justify it.

A message requesting comment from the justice ministry was not immediately answered.

“There is no doubt that Diego Costa was enticed,” Lopes said. “The Spaniards spent hours putting pressure on him. It’s obvious that the reason for his choice was financial.”

Brazilian federation president Jose Maria Marin said on Tuesday the “case was not over yet” and he would study all possibilities to keep Diego Costa from joining Spain and setting a precedent.

“We will fight for what we believe is our right,” Marin said.

The federation complained about FIFA’s rule that allows players to switch national teams even after playing friendlies for a different nation. It argues the friendlies are considered official by FIFA when it establishes its rankings used for the World Cup seedings, so they also must be considered official when it comes to players’ appearances.

Diego Costa played a few minutes for Brazil in friendlies against Russia and Italy in March, and Scolari last week said he was going to pick him again for the November friendlies against Chile and Honduras.

In his letter to the Brazilian federation rejecting the national team, Diego Costa said “it wasn’t an easy decision” because of his “love to the wonderful land where (he was) born.” But he said the decision made sense because Spain was where he was well received and where his professional career developed.

“To be able to defend (Spain’s) colors internationally is my way to try to give back for everything that was given to me there,” Diego Costa wrote. “After a long period of consideration, I decided that the best for me, for my family and for my professional career is to play for the Spanish national team.”

On Atletico Madrid’s website, Diego Costa said he has “a special affection” for Spain and feels “very valued” there, but admitted that he would like to retire to Brazil when his playing days are over.

“It’s a complicated decision because it’s a decision related to the country where you were born against the country that has given you everything,” Diego Costa said. “It is a very difficult and thought out decision on my part. I hope people can understand and respect this decision, which was very difficult to take.”

Scolari said on Tuesday that Diego Costa was “giving his back to what is the dream of millions, to represent the five-time world champions in a World Cup in Brazil.”

Scolari himself was involved in a controversy when he chose to coach Portugal after leading Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title.

He played Deco, who was born in Brazil but later earned Portuguese citizenship. Scolari contends, though, that he picked Deco only after then-Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said he didn’t intend to use Deco.

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AP Sports Writer Paul Logothetis contributed from Madrid.

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Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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