FIFA rejects World Cup request by Morocco to select Munir El Haddadi

Morocco's hopes of adding Munir El Haddadi to their World Cup squad have been dashed by FIFA.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) asked the governing body to grant them clearance so that the Barcelona forward could switch his allegiance from Spain to Morocco, the country of Munir's father's birth.

The 22-year-old played for Spain at youth level and made an appearance with La Roja in a Euro 2016 qualifier in September 2014.

"The request made by the Football Federation of Morocco and the player Munir El Haddadi for change of Association was rejected by the Bureau of the Players' Status Committee," a FIFA spokesperson told ESPN FC.

FIFA's rules forbid any player who has appeared in an official competition for one national team from appearing in an international game for another.

Morocco have qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 and will face Spain, Portugal and Iran in Group B.

The Atlas Lions were looking to strengthen their squad with Munir, who is on loan at Alaves from Barcelona and has scored six goals and set up five more in 25 league appearances.

And potentially having Munir available for the 2026 World Cup, which Morocco is bidding to host, could have offered an additional appeal to both the forward and the national side.

Munir earned his only Spain cap at 18 when he came on as a second-half substitute in a Euro 2016 qualifying win over Macedonia. He last featured for Spain in October 2016 when he played for the under-21 squad.

Born in Madrid, Munir said he did not regret playing for Spain but said it would be "beautiful and a dream come true" to represent Morocco at the World Cup.

Former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who gave Munir his Spain debut, regrets the decision.

"I feel responsible for Munir not being able to play for Morocco," Del Bosque said in December. "Munir's situation is a shame. I think he should be able to play for Morocco. One should look at why he hasn't come since and why he was selected. It was due to a player being injured that we called up Munir."