BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Former US Under-17 international Dustin Corea is caught in the center of a fight that has jeopardized soccer in El Salvador.
Corea, 18, is both an American and El Salvadorian citizen who previously played for the US U-17 national team in U-17 World Cup qualifying. On April 25, 2009 he took part in the US U-17s' 3-0 victory over Honduras when he came on as a second half substitute.
It was an official event that would require him to file a one-time switch with FIFA if he ever wanted to play for El Salvador.
Since U-17 qualifying, Corea has fallen out of favor with US U-17 head coach Wilmer Cabrera and US U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. As a result, he was recruited by El Salvador's federation for their U-20 team.
In November, Corea accepted a call-up to play with El Salvador's U-20 team for Central American qualifying with the top teams advancing to the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championships which is also the World Cup qualifying tournament. In other words, it was an official tournament for CONCACAF and not just a friendly.
Corea played well in this tournament. On December 1, he scored for El Salvador in their 6-1 victory over Belize. He would also score for El Salvador against Costa Rica in a 1-1 draw that would advance El Salvador on goal differential over the Costa Ricans.
While El Salvador did advance in the tournament, their problems were just beginning. This past week according to Masconazo.com, the Costa Rican federation filed an appeal to have the results vacated which would eliminate El Salvador from U-20 competition this cycle.
Why is this?
Well, Costa Rica is claiming that El Salvador used an ineligible player for the tournament in that Dustin Corea was on record as an American player. In their appeal, they claim that El Salvador never filed the FIFA-mandated switch for Corea. This was an official tournament and such a switch is required.
As embarrassing as this incident has become for El Salvador, the federation's defense is even worse. According to losprovocadores.net, El Salvador did not file the switch because they were not even aware that he ever played for the US.
It's not like this was a huge secret.
Corea has been interviewed by many news organizations, including us here at YA, about his involvement with the US U-17 team. Even the official post-game recaps on CONCACAF's website discussed Corea's play for the US U-17's. The fact that El Salvador did not address this matter is an astonishing level of oversight and incompetence.
Not only are Costa Rica likely to win their appeal, but FIFA have also come down hard on countries for not following the rules regarding official youth tournaments. In 1990, Mexico that was disqualified from the senior World Cup in Italy because they fielded an over-age player in an official youth tournament.
As for now, Corea remains on the books as a US player and El Salvador's soccer federation will have to await a potentially serious punishment.