MADRID: Atletico Madrid’s Brazil-born forward Diego Costa has snubbed Brazil and its football president Jose Maria Marin by deciding to play for Spain.
Costa, who has lived in Spain since 2007 and holds Brazilian and Spanish passports, has written to the Brazilian Football Confederation stating he wants to represent the world champions.
This followed a statement by Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari that he planned to select the 25-year-old in his squad for friendlies next month against Honduras and Chile.
The Spanish league’s 11-goal top scorer played for Brazil in March – but only in friendly matches, and so could switch allegiances.
In a statement, the Spanish Football Federation said that the player has stated “his desire to be at the disposition of the Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque” in a signed letter addressed to Julio Cesar Avelleda, secretary general of the CBF.
He could make his Spain debut on 19 November in a friendly against South Africa. The possibility may be welcomed by Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque who has lacked a main striker since Fernando Torres’s form went into freefall and David Villa suffered a serious leg injury. Roberto Soldado, now with Tottenham, was unconvincing at the Confederations Cup in Brazil last summer.
The Brazilian media has grown increasingly concerned about the prospect of Costa ‘coming home’ for the World Cup finals to score goals for Spain.
The world and European champions are widely considered in Brazil as the greatest threat to a home triumph, notwithstanding that Brazil beat Spain decisively last June in the Confederations Cup Final.
Only last weekend CBF president Marin said he had warned his Spanish federation counterpart, Angel Maria Villar, against calling up Costa.
Marin said: “I had a friendly conversation with president Villar and made it clear that our coach [Luiz Felipe Scolari] wants to select him Costa and that we think Spain’s intention to call him up is illegal.
“I also said that we are prepared to take every action possible to fight for the right of the CBF. He (Villar) responded by saying the decision lies with the player.”
Scolari’s decision to overlook Costa for the World Cup hosts’ two October friendlies may backfire badly.