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US Can Pick Folarin Balogun as FIFA Approves Eligibility Change from England

Balogun has been in demand after a breakout season in France on loan to Reims from Arsenal.

The United States can select Folarin Balogun after the England Under-21 forward who has starred in the French league opted to represent the 2026 World Cup co-host.

FIFA said on Tuesday it approved a request by the U.S. Soccer Federation to change Balogun’s national eligibility from England. The 21-year-old New York-born player also was eligible for Nigeria.

Balogun has been in demand after a breakout season in France on loan to Reims from Arsenal.

He has 19 goals and dueled with Kylian Mbappé for part of the season to be the league top scorer. Mbappé now leads with 26 for Paris Saint-Germain.

Balogun was born in Brooklyn though his Nigerian parents had been living in London.

“My parents were on holiday there for a few months because we have family in New York,” Balogun said in an interview with the French league website this season. “But very soon after I was born, we all moved back to London.”

Balogun also acknowledged “London is my city, it’s where I grew up, where my friends are, and if people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m English. But, yes, I am a mixture of all these cultures.”

He played for England and the U.S. at youth level before establishing himself in the England U21s.

His decision to represent the United States comes five weeks before England plays in the Under-21 European Championship being hosted by Romania and Georgia. The English Football Association also had to consent to the change of eligibility.

FIFA rules allow players to change national eligibility before playing in a competitive game at senior level.

The U.S. courted Balogun on a visit to Florida in March and can selected him for the CONCACAF Gold Cup which it hosts from June 24-July 16.

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