The United States can select Folarin Balogun after the England Under-21 forward, who played for Ligue 1 club Reims this season, opted to represent the co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup.
FIFA said on Tuesday it had approved a request by the US Football Association to change Balogun’s national eligibility to play for England. The 21-year-old New York-born player was also eligible to play for Nigeria.
Balogun confirmed the move in a video on his social media accounts with the slogans “I’m coming home” and “Let’s make history”.
It was the first post ever on his Instagram account, which already has 265,000 followers.
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Balogun enjoyed a seminal season on loan from Arsenal in France’s top flight, scoring 19 goals and battling for part of the season with Kylian Mbappé for the league’s top scorer title. Mbappe now leads Paris Saint-Germain by 26 goals.
Balogun was born in Brooklyn, but his Nigerian parents lived in London.
“My parents were there on vacation 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 soon after I was born, we all moved back to London.”
Balogun also said: “London is my city, that’s where I grew up, that’s where my friends are and when people ask me where I’m from I say I’m English. But yeah, I’m a mix of all those cultures.”
He played for England and USA at youth level before establishing himself with England Under-21s.
“My decision to represent the United States came about with my family,” Balogun said Tuesday. “In the end it was a given, but it’s definitely just something I wanted to do and it feels like home. Representing the United States means a lot, more than people realize. That’s me.” I’m very proud and honored to have this opportunity and I want to give my all to make our team successful.
His decision to represent USA comes five weeks before England play in the European Under-21 Championship, which is being hosted by Romania and Georgia. The English Football Association (FA) also had to agree to the change in eligibility.
“We are pleased that Folarin has chosen to represent the United States,” USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson said in a statement. “He is not only an extremely talented player but also a good man who will add value to our national team both on and off the pitch at a time when the team continues to improve. It’s clear he cherishes his US roots and we can’t wait for him to become a part of the team.”
FIFA rules allow players to change their national eligibility before participating in a senior-level competitive match.
The USA courted Balogun during a visit to Florida in March and can select him for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which they are hosting from June 24 to July 16.
Balogun said he felt the love of the fans during this visit.
“I think that’s where I really saw the full power of the US fans,” said Balogun. “I was there and just posted a photo with my friends thinking it was just a holiday photo. Before I knew it I saw tons of comments and people knew I was in America and I really felt the love from there.” There was a lot of preparation going on so obviously I saw people saying I should choose to represent the USA and I’m just really glad I chose to do it.”