Balogun given green light to play for USMNT

The United States can select Folarin Balogun after the England under-21 forward, who has starred for Ligue 1 side Reims this season, 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.

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Balogun has enjoyed a breakout season in France’s top tier, on loan from Arsenal, scoring 19 goals and dueled with Kylian Mbappe for part of the season to be the league’s top scorer. Mbappe now leads with 26 goals for Paris Saint-Germain.

Balogun was born in Brooklyn, but 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 earlier this season. “But very soon after I was born, we all moved back to London.”

Balogun also said: “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 with England’s U21s.

His decision to represent the U.S. comes five weeks before England plays in the U21 European Championship hosted by Romania and Georgia. The English Football Association (FA) 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 select him for the CONCACAF Gold Cup which it hosts from June 24-July 16.

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