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Fontanella frustrated as Maltese passport application hits a dead end

Valletta striker Mario Fontanella has voiced his frustration as he has yet to receive an answer on whether his application for a Maltese passport on sporting merit has been accepted or not.

Last year, the Italian striker had been lined up to be one of two Italian players considered for a Maltese passport on sporting merit following a recommendation by the Malta Football Association and national teams’ head coach Devis Mangia.

However, despite filing all the necessary paperwork and appearing in front of a government board, Fontanella has yet to receive a definite decision on whether he will be awarded Maltese citizenship which would make him eligible to represent Malta in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Mangia, the Malta national teams’ head coach, is expected to name his squad for the opening qualifiers against Russia, at home on March 24, and away trips to Slovakia (March 27) and Croatia (March 30) and would have surely welcomed the availability of Fontanella given the current absence of forwards Kyrian Nwoko and Jean Paul Farrugia.

“Inititially, the federation had two names for a Maltese passport, namely Amadou Samb and Enrico Pepe, in February last year,” Fontanella told The Times of Malta.

“Then Giovanni Tedesco, who was at the helm of Valletta last year, spoke with Devis Mangia and told him to consider me for Maltese citizenship and the Malta coach accepted his proposal.

“In April, a meeting was held between Valletta FC officials and Mangia and it was decided that the club would submit my application which was filed in June.

“After that, Mangia included me in the squad for a training camp in July where he wanted to have a closer look at the players he wanted to work with in the Nations League campaign. Mangia was happy with my performances and decided to stop the application of Amadou Samb and continue application process for Enrico Pepe and me.

“Since then, the processing procedure of my application seemed to hit problems and I was informed that it was going to be difficult for me to receive a passport in time to play for Malta in the UEFA Nations League.

“In November, I appeared in front of a government board along with Devis Mangia and after the national teas coach assured them of the importance of awarding a passport to me, we were informed that I would receive a passport by not later than a months’ time.

“However, unfortunately, we remained without a reply and we are still waiting.”

Fontanella said that he cannot understand what is stopping him from receiving the Maltese passport, particularly after the national teams’ head coach Mangia has continuously made it clear that he wanted him in the national team.

“There were rumours in the last weeks that said that Mangia was no longer in having me in the national team, but that is a huge lie,” Fontanella said.

“I am in constant contact with Mr Mangia and if there is one thing that I trust him of is that he is very coherent with his position. I am really grateful to him as he has always supported me and made me feel wanted in the national team even when I was not playing.

“My only certainty on this process is that he wants me to be part of his national team.

“Last week, I spoke with Valletta president Victor Sciriha who informed me that MFA general secretary Angelo Chetcuti was set to send an official request to the government, but until today we are still left in the dark.

“What I’m asking is to have some kind of response of what is going. Should the response be negative, I just want to know what it was rejected and move on.

“I am desperate to be part of the national team’s project and I hope that this situation is resolved as soon as possible.”

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