Could Joel Embiid play for the French national team?

According to French outlet RMC Sport, Joel Embiid has started the necessary procedures to play for “Les Bleus”.

Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert might be the French frontcourt for the 2024 Olympics, at least theoretically. According to recent news, french media RMC Sport has revealed Embiid will to play for France. The news has been confirmed by Boris Diaw, GM of the French national team : “I know that he personally started the procedures of naturalization and wants to play for France. That being said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and wait for the end of the process”.

However it is no big news since the question had already been asked back in 2018. At the time, French superstars like Tony Parker or Evan Fournier publicly stood against the naturalization of the Cameroonian player.

“In national federations, people are working hard on youth development for example and I think when you do things like that, it lacks authenticity. I’m not really fond of seeing American players suiting up for Slovenia or Croatia. In national teams, you have to play with local players, who grew up over there.”

Tony Parker, L’Equipe, 18 January 2018

Back in 2018, Embiid stated that if he were to play internationally “he’d rather be for Cameroon” even though France remained an option. Jean-Pierre Siutat, head of French Basketball, was also very cautious four years ago.

“He loves France, he has family over there […] but to get someone like him, even though he’s an extraordinary player, and naturalize him to reinforce the team, I don’t believe it. It’s not that easy to naturalize people. We’ll have to get the FIBA approval, which usually sides for African players reinforcing their countries rather than being naturalized. We’ll see but I don’t believe it”

Jean-Pierre Suitat, L’Equipe, 16 September 2018

FIBA states in its rule that each country is entitled to only one naturalized player in their national teams. Since then, the process remains still but Joel Embiid could still represent France for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Photo : Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

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