Home England EPL motive would explain Bunbury’s national team flip-flop

EPL motive would explain Bunbury’s national team flip-flop

Teal Bunbury
If, despite Sporting Kansas City’s protests, Stoke City does make an effort to sign Teal Bunbury after he finishes his week on what the Potters are calling a “trial,” there could be a chance that Canadian soccer fans could forgive the striker.

Could is the key word.

Is it coincidence that Bunbury received a look-see from Stoke manager Tony Pulis just weeks after he made his debut for the Stars and Stripes — after famously deciding against playing for Canada — in a friendly against South Africa?

Bunbury had played with Canada’s youth program. He was born in Canada. His dad played for Canada. The younger Bunbury had repeated over and over that he’d keep playing for Canada.

But, being a Canadian international is a cross to bear for any player looking to establish himself in England. Because of Canada’s lowly ranking, Bunbury would have had to fight for a work permit. Remember, even if Bunbury is a dual citizen, he would have been judged as a Canadian because that’s the national team he represented. That’s made clear in the FA and U.K. work-permit rules.

Playing for a country ranked lower than No. 70 in the FIFA charts — and that ranking is averaged out over the previous two seasons — is a death sentence for a non-EU player’s hopes to make it in the Premiership.

Once he decided to play for the Americans, though, he received the benefit of a top-20 FIFA ranking.

If he knew Stoke was interested even before the call-up from U.S. coach Bob Bradley, that could have been a decision-maker. Because of U.K. work permit rules (published below), Bunbury knew that he would still need to appeal to play in England right away. According to the regulations, a player needs to build up consistent playing time with his national team over a two-year period before being able to get that work permit. That’s to ensure that players who have two passports can’t play for one country but use the other for the work-permit application. For the purpose of the work-permit application, a dual citizen has to marry himself to the national program for which he plays.

So far, Bunbury has one international game, a friendly, with the U.S. under his belt. Heck, he’s still free to change his mind and come back to the Canadian program.

But, if he knew Stoke wanted to have a look-see, Bunbury may have realized time his window of opportunity for a move across the Atlantic was opening, and it would be better for his career to begin a U.S. playing career.

U.K. work permit rules for footballers (from theFA.com)

1. A player must have played for his country in at least 75% of its competitive “A” team matches he was available for selection, during the 2 years preceding the date of the application;

2. The player’s country must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the 2 years preceding the date of the application; and

3. The application for a GBE must be made by a club in membership of the Premier League or Football League and the player will only play for clubs in membership of those leagues.

The definition of a competitive ‘A’ team international match is a:
– World Cup Finals game
– World Cup Qualifying group game; and
– Football Association Confederation game, for example:
– The FIFA Confederations Cup;
– The UEFA European Championships and Qualifiers;
– The African Cup of Nations and Qualifiers;
– The Asia Nations Cup and Qualifiers;
– The CONCACAF Gold Cup;
– The CONCACAF The Copa Caribe;
– The CONMEBOL Copa America;
– The OFC Nations Cup and
– The UNCAF Nations Cup

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One Comment

  1. Kurt Larson

    December 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    It’s not going to happen. Bunbury will be back in K.C. Does anyone really think that Bunbury will get a call-up for the Gold Cup next year? Confederations Cup = Altidore, Dempsey, Donovan & Co.

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