Bar-On Approves Citizenship for Soccer Players Tamuz and Colautti

Beitar striker Tamuz: This is the happiest moment of my life, I finally feel like those who grew up in Israel.

Toto Tamuz and Roberto Colautti will again be eligible to play for the national team after Interior Minister Roni Bar-On approved their requests for full citizenship Monday.

Bar-On's move came following a request by Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon to accelerate the procedure for national team players.

"The decision by FIFA [to require full citizenship for national team players] could have been a big blow to the national team," Bar-On said. "I was convinced that these players are legal Israeli residents who are entitled to Israeli citizenship in the future, and who have attached their fates to the fate of the nation. The success of the national team justifies shortening the process."

The granting of citizenship will be contingent on the two players' signing documents in which they commit to being a part of the national team any time they are called up, and being drafted into the Israel Defense Forces if requested.

They will receive passports valid for one year, during which time the Interior Ministry will decide how for long they should be renewed.

"We are happy and pleased by the Interior Minister's decision, and we thank him and the ministry's director general Ram Belinkov," Luzon said.

Colautti and Tamuz were pleased with the decision. "This is the happiest moment of my life," Tamuz said. "I've waited for this for so many years, and finally I can be like all of the children who grew up in Israel."

"I knew that I would receive citizenship, but didn't know it would happen quickly," Colautti said.