Christian Pulisic and using lineage citizenships to boost your athletic career.

In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the importance of players having a thoughtful US or Canadian immigration strategy. We’ve also talked about the importance of international players ensuring that they maintain the citizenships of their birth. Here, we will look at how players may be able to leverage their family history in order to extend their playing careers. Lineage citizenships have a huge amount of potential. They may give themselves and their future dependents the right to live, study or work in a large number of countries.

Lineage Citizenships – Looking back to move forward!

The United States and Canada are immigrant countries. Many players (and/or their spouses) have parents, grandparents or even great grandparents who immigrated from other countries. These countries may offer descendants the right to claim citizenship “in the old country”. As international leagues have developed and expanded, many of our clients have been able to extend their playing careers by playing overseas. In addition, having certain second citizenships can significantly improve a player’s marketability to international league teams.

This is a result of changes made after the 1995 Bosman ruling. In effect this has meant that EU national players are excluded from “foreign” player quotas. A player is more attractive to a team if they do not have to use one of their limited number of foreign player slots to acquire their services. Moreover, many of our client’s children will benefit in the future in their ability to study and live abroad.

Lineage Citizenships offer opportunity…

Another advantage is that you may be able to take advantages of training and opportunities within International sports at a younger age. For instance, in soccer US players simply do not have the same opportunities as their overseas counterparts. European players start younger, and have a more prestigious platform to launch their career. An example in point of an American Player who took advantage of his European lineage to fast track his career is Christian Pulisic.

A real life example  – Christian Pulisic

Pennsylvanian born Christian Pulisic is a rising star in the soccer world. He is quickly becoming a player to watch in one of the world’s most prestigious clubs Chelsea FC. His career and the road to Chelsea owe a lot to the fact that he took advantage of a lineage passport. This is the key factor that enabled him to secure a foothold in Europe.

Christian Pulisic lineage citizenship
Christian Pulisic in action!

Pulisic grew up in Hershey Pennslyvania, the grandson of a Croatian man who emigrated to the US in the 1960s. The career track of an American athlete is slower moving than in Europe. Traditionally American children who show prodigious talent aren’t fast tracked to the professional leagues in the same way as their European counterparts. Instead they are normally expected to attend college before entering the pros. Pulisic’s parents knew he had the talent, drive and maturity to make use of his talent as early as possible. Therefore they found a way, thorough his lineage, to allow him to go pro whilst his US team mates were still playing in high school matches.

Christian Pulisic – how did he become a pro at 16?

His Croatian heritage allowed him to sign with Borussia Dortmund’s youth programme. This is a known fast track for talent to prove their worth to the big leagues. After 15 matches, and at just 16 years of age Pulisic was snapped up by Dortmund’s highest level. Not long after that he became the youngest foreign player to score a goal in Bundesliga.

The US National team quickly became aware of this young superstar. He became the youngest player to score a goal on the men’s national team. He’s even earned the nickname Captain America!

He was loaned to Chelsea in 2019, and the move soon became permanent. Already a superstar at the age of 22 his career is still young. This is largely because his parents were canny enough to take advantage of a lineage passport. This has meant he accessed opportunities at the right time.

Finding out more about lineage citizenships

The rules regarding the ability to qualify for lineage based citizenships differ from country to country. Moreover they are continually changing and evolving. In recent years, countries which had restricted eligibility or disallowed dual citizenship have changed their policies. They  discovered the usefulness of extending these rights on a more favourable basis. Therefore, players should not rely on information that they hear “from the community”.  It may be outdated or even always been completely incorrect.

At Lesperance Associates we will help you determine if you and your family are entitled to a lineage citizenship. If you are eligible we can help you through the process of getting this valuable planning tool in your toolbox. Remember that acquiring these citizenships take time, so it is important to start the process long before you may need it. Contact us to find out more. 


main image by Erik Drost

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