African iinterest remains strong in France and Belgium

Hearts were broken when all five African nations - Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia - crashed out in the first stage of the World Cup - but some fans say hope is not lost.

"At least we still have France," many people have joked on social media.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron has got in on the act, telling Nigerians that now the Super Eagles are out of the World Cup, they should support France.

Indeed, France has 14 players in the squad who would be able to play for an African country. Two French players have siblings who do so.

Paul Pogba's brother, Florentin, plays for Guinea, while Steve Mandanda's brother, Parfait, plays for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both previously played for France's national youth teams before opting to represent the countries where their parents came from.

Fourteen of France's 23-member squad would be eligible to play for African teams

France's breakout star of the competition so far, 19-year-old striker Kylian Mbappé, was born to a Cameroonian father and French-Algerian mother.

Belgium, meanwhile, has eight players of African parentage - with either one or both parents hailing from the continent.

They are Kompany, Fellaini, Lukaku, Dembélé, Boyata, Batshuayi, Chadli and Tielemans.

England have two players in Dele Alli - whose father hails from Nigeria - and his team-mate Danny Welbeck who was born in Manchester to Ghanaian parents.

Fifa's nationality rules

Footballers who have played a competitive international for one team cannot switch to another national side

But this rule has been relaxed to allow footballers to change nationality from junior to senior level

Friendlies are not binding - so Diego Costa was able to switch to Spain after playing friendlies for Brazil, as did Belgium's Nacer Chadli after a Morocco friendly

Players with no blood connection to a country are only allowed to represent it if they have lived and played there for five years

But this is different for refugees, who can play upon receiving citizenship without having to wait to wait five years

The reality, however, is that footballers' professional prospects often trump questions of national allegiance.

"Those professional prospects are often improved by playing international football," says BBC Africa Sport's Nick Cavell, "and that means that plenty of players born or raised in European countries commit to play for African teams.

"Indeed just six of the 23-man Morocco squad at the 2018 World Cup were born in the country."

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