Iceland! Home of Elf School, airport layovers on the way to good Europe, and mediocre soccer. U.S. Soccer just poached one of their young players, and now Iceland is steaming, just like their picturesque and restorative geothermal pools.
Aron Jóhannsson is a 22-year-old striker and Icelandic national who currently plays for AZ Alkmaar. But he was born in Alabama, which makes him eligible for the U.S. national team. Yesterday, Jóhannsson announced on his Facebook page that he's made the right choice: America.
Iceland's soccer association is furious. Via Soccer By Ives, check this release from the KSÍ. (What is that character? Is that an "i"? Is it a rune? Does Iceland still use runes? I don't know.)
Aron Jóhannsson is an Icelander born in the USA in 1990 where he lived in the first years of his life. Aron’s parents are Icelandic. Aron got his soccer education under the KSÍ umbrella, with Fjölnir, where he played all the junior years (with a short stay with Breiðablik) and then played for their full team, before joining AGF in Denmark on September 1st 2010.
Aron Jóhannsson played 10 international matches for Iceland U21 in 2011 and 2012. Of these 10 games 8 of them were in UEFA competitions and Aron was a starter in each of them.
FIFA allows players to changes national sides once if they fulfill certain criteria, even if they have played with junior national sides, as long as they have not played an official A team match. One of the conditions allows players to switch to a country they were born in if they wish to represent it.
Aron has for the past year been unable to answer a call-up to the Iceland National Team from the national coach due to injuries. During that same time, news filtered through that the US Men National Team coach was interested in the player. Aron has no link to soccer in the USA at all.
Yesterday a statement from Aron was published where he expressed his desire to play for the USMNT. The only thing that has been pointed out to KSÍ from an interested party, is that his income potential, as a USA player, is much greater, both in the form of grants and sponsorship, than if he were an Iceland player. It is simply so that an Iceland National team member must play for land and country and for that they get honor and glory.
It is the utmost wish of KSÍ that Aron turns back on his ideas to change national teams. Aron is an Icelander through and through who we need in the tough international competitions. Aron has already played 10 U21 matches for Iceland and his future belongs there. Hopefully the public and media will respond and challenge Aron to continue competing for Iceland. KSÍ has already requested for Aron to participate in the next national team match vs. the Faroe Islands on August 14th.
There is no logic behind Aron relinquishing his Icelandic soccer identity.
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Come on by New York sometime, Aron. We'll set off M-80s and toast the two-party system with malt liquor to celebrate your first taste of Freedom.