Bajrami beats FIFA in court, can switch to play for Albania

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a win over FIFA at sport’s highest court, Empoli midfielder Nedim Bajrami won the right Monday to switch national teams from Switzerland to Albania.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said its panel upheld an appeal by Bajrami and the Albania soccer federation against a FIFA judge rejecting their request in May.

The urgent ruling clears the 22-year-old Bajrami to be selected for Albania in World Cup qualification games this week against Poland and Hungary. Its group is currently led by England.

Bajrami has Albanian family roots but grew up in Switzerland and represented its teams from youth level through to the Under-21s.

“The panel considered that Nedim Bajrami never played with the Swiss (senior) national team and already held Albanian nationality,” the court said.

Bajrami split with Switzerland in March when he declined selection for the U21 European Championship.

FIFA rules allow dual-national players to change their eligibility once, but it had ruled Bajrami did not have formal dual-nationality status when he began representing Switzerland.

CAS held a fast-track hearing by video-link last Tuesday to make a decision ahead of the international break.

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