Being a cricketer main hurdle for 'refugee' leg-spinner Ahmed's Oz citizenship process

Sydney, May 29 (ANI): According to the Australian media, refugee leg spinner Fawad Ahmed may probably already have been given an Australian citizenship if he were playing another sport than cricket.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, had the Pakistan-born Ashes hopeful been in tennis or another sport other than cricket, he would not have failed to satisfy an obscure law that clears citizenship hurdles for certain elite athletes.

The report further said that likely recruits for the Australian Olympic or Paralympic teams and professional tennis stars can get an Australian visa because their activities are deemed to 'benefit' the country, adding that Ashes does not occupy a place in the list which, however, includes the Fed Cup and the Davis Cup.

For this reason, Ahmed's prospects for Ashes selection depend upon the approval of a government, which is cautious about tweaking the desired legal changes unless it is sure that it has large parliamentary support.

However, the report added, Cricket Australia (CA) has urged the Julia Gillard government for a positive action and Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor may be considering granting citizenship to Ahmed, although the move is still in the wraps because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, Ahmed would be eligible to play for Australia on August 18, only just before the fifth Ashes test and could join the team sooner if he had an Australian passport, the report further said.

The Australian Olympic Committee has helped about 15 athletes become citizens since 2009 and three, namely Russian speed skater Tatiana Borodulina and eastern European tennis players Anastasia Rodionova and Jarmila Gajdosova, have gone on to compete in Winter or Summer Olympics.

Although normal residency requirements dictate the person must be in Australia for at least four years, but leaving the country for more than 90 days in the year makes the person ineligible, spelling trouble for elite athletes who travel regularly, the report added. (ANI)

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