Brazilian footballer gets Russian citizenship

Moscow (AFP) – CSKA Moscow’s Brazilian right-back Mario Fernandes will be able to play for Russia after he was just the latest foreign player to be granted citizenship, a presidential decree published Wednesday said. 

The 25-year-old defender, who has won three Russian Premier League titles, is the third foreign-born football player to receive Russian citizenship over the past year.

“After transferring to CSKA in 2012, Russia became a real home for me,” a statement published by the Moscow club quoted Fernandes as saying. 

“I had the genuine desire to receive citizenship and have the possibility of playing for the national team.”

Sports minister Vitaly Mutko said in March that Russia was interested in having Fernandes in the Russian side. 

Lokomotiv Moscow’s Brazilian goalkeeper Guilherme and twice-capped Germany international Roman Neustadter received Russian passports ahead of Euro 2016 and were included in the squad for the tournament. 

Fernandes’s new status will also allow him to get around the Russian Premier League’s foreign player limit. The league currently has a limit of six foreign players on the pitch at one time. 

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