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Aron Johannsson enrages Icelandic FA after switching allegiance to USA

Jul 30, 2013, 6:10 PM EDT

Aron Johannsson Aron Johannsson

Aron Johannsson probably won’t be stepping foot in Reykjavik for quite some time…

Not if he knows what’s good for him.

The Football Association of Iceland has today released as scathing statement speaking out against Johannsson, who yesterday announced he would be representing the US national team and turn away from the country where he was brought up.

Johannsson, 22, has caused quite the stir in his homeland, after the American-Icelandic has turned down the chance to represent Iceland in favor of the USA.

And now it seems as though the AZ Alkmaar forward, who was born in Mobile, Alabama, has upset the good folks at the Iceland FA. Johannsson has apparently been invited to join up with the national team for their game against the Faroe Islands on August 14. But the young striker is expected to be in Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the friendly with Bosnia on the same day.

Last season the sought after striker scored 17 goals in 23 games for AZ and AGF Aarhus, and this season he will take on a leading role at Alkmaar after future USMNT teammates Jozy Altidore left for Sunderland.

In the lengthy statement, provided by Johannes Birgir Jensson of the World Football Foundation (WorldFootball.org), the Icelandic FA have suggested that Johannsson will gain more “income potential” from playing for the USMNT.

(MORE: AZ Alkmaar striker Aron Johannsson picks USA over Iceland)

They also go on to state that Aron “has no links to US soccer at all” and urge the Icelandic people and media to “respond and challenge Aron to continue competing for Iceland.”

Wow. This guy must be pretty good if Iceland are kicking up this much of a stink about him. And the statement finishes with the following. “There is no logic behind Aron relinquishing his Icelandic soccer identity.”

Well, if somehow he makes the World Cup squad for Brazil, a long shot but you never know, then his decision seems quite logical. However Iceland are quite close to making the UEFA playoffs for a spot at the World Cup, just one point behind Albania with four games to go in Group E.

So, will Johannsson change his mind now Iceland have come out kicking and screaming? When he released his decision via his Facebook page yesterday, the striker seemed to have his mind made up.

This could change things.

Here is the statement in full from the Football Association of Iceland. What do you think?

Statement from KSÍ – Aron Jóhannsson should play for Iceland

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.

Iceland Football Association

  1. rhaaland - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    We get it, Iceland. He’s played for you in the past. And so what?

    Also, this may seem absurd coming from an American soccer fan, but isn’t “Icelandic soccer identity” an oxymoron?

  2. talgrath - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Yeah, Iceland has a shot at making it to the World Cup, but the USMNT are a sure thing; even if Johansson doesn’t go this time, if he is good enough to nab a spot on the roster, he’ll go next time (barring some sort of crazy USMNT collapse on the way to the next World Cup). There’s also something to be said for playing for the biggest fish in a small pond, rather than one of the smallest fish on a big pond. Finally, Iceland has never qualified for a World Cup, ever; Iceland has little interest in really putting a lot of effort behind their soccer program too. Now, you might say this is a bit hypocritical, given the USMNT history, but it’s the raw fact that most people would rather have a chance to play for a team that is well-funded and popular, rather than be assured of playing for a team that is barely scraping by, can you honestly blame Johansson for picking the USMNT? I certainly didn’t (and still don’t) begrudge those that can play for a country with a better team and do so over the US.

  3. seanb20124 - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    You should play for country of your birth.

    • walkoff3 - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      I remember during one of Mexico’s gold cup games they brought on a sub who was born in San Jose, CA and moved to Mexico when he was 2. They said a few days after he told their Federation where he was born he was called up to be cap tied. Learn from this Iceland!

  4. jshalonzo - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    If Iceland FA really want him to stay, which it sounds like they do real bad, than I think their making a HUGE mistake by basically saying Aron’s main reason to throw his loyalty to the USMNT is because his “income potential” could be greater. Iceland are obviously underestimating his desire to play on the biggest stage possible…which is the World Cup. The US odds of making every WC for the foreseeable future are pretty favorable one would think….definitely a lot more favorable than Iceland anyways. Aron’s not a dummy, he knows that. I think Iceland just sealed their fate with that statement.

  5. walkoff3 - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    If Iceland knew he could potentially play for the US, why didn’t they cap tie him at some point during their WC qualifiers to this point? He’s obviously good enough. If they are trying to establish themselves and build something for the future, lock that sh*t down Iceland! You see Mexico and the US do it all the time with those type of players here!

  6. randomhookup - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    They did give it a decent try during their 4 qualifiers since Sept. 2012. They called him up in October 2012 for 2 qualifiers and he was injured (and withdrew). The next WCQ match was in March and he hadn’t regained full fitness following January hernia surgery.

    He told them in June not to call him up for that qualifier as he wanted to take his time and consider his options. I think he was pretty well gone at that point, but wanted to see how the teams performed. The US made it pretty easy to make his decision.

    • walkoff3 - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:19 AM

      Wow. If that is the case it’s incredibly bad luck for Iceland. I’m sure they are incredibly frustrated since they can’t help the fact they are in UEFA and the US in CONCACAF. Or the Euro legend Jurgen is the US coach. But im not complaining.

  7. adiaz9201 - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    Love this finally we get to bring some of our boys to play for our natioanl team, in a country where immigrants build this great nation and have no doubt that soccer is in their blood, sometimes they choose to play for their origins, this just drives me nuts. You were born here you are from hear plain and simple, besides we play in the Concacaf a weak conference we will have more chances then any other country to make the world cup, just listen to the south american nations that dont make it or europeans that might be better then us, but because Eufa and Canemebol are great conference hardly not all of them can make it. Oh Yea!

  8. lyleoross - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    LOL,

    I’ve never heard of any national team turning down a player who can advance their cause, ever. Nor of one telling a good player they want him. I feel for Iceland, but this is the nature of international sports, period.

    I’m simply happy that the US has gained the stature that an international player would choose us.

  9. supercoop8 - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    For all of you saying things like “you were born here you should play here,” you do realize the current influx of German born players, history of Dutch born players, and pile of Mexican and Central American born player that have all donned the US jersey.

    It is great to have another young player that can finish.

  10. hildezero - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    Yeah, that is true. For example, I was born in Mexico and grew up in the US and if I were a pro soccer player, I would choose to play for the US, because I love this country.

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