E. Africa proud as Tanzanian joins Wanyama in English Premier League

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
Tanzanian captain Mbwana Samatta.

London, Tuesday 

East Africa exploded in delight after Tanzanian captain Mbwana Samatta sealed a transfer move from Belgium giants Genk to Aston Villa in the English Premier League.

On Tuesday, the struggling club confirmed in a statement published on their official website the 27-year-old has moved to Villa Park on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

Samatta becomes the first player from Tanzania to feature in the Premier League, which also has Kenyan captain Victor Wanyama at Tottenham Hotspur.

Samatta, who moved to Belgium from Congolese giants Tout Puissant  (TP) Mazembe in 2016, has seven goals in 20 Jupiler League outings so far this term.

He also scored three goals in six Champions League group stage games in 2019, including in Genk’s 2-1 defeat by Liverpool in November.

Samatta captained Genk to the Belgian title last season, top-scoring with 20 goals from 28 appearances while, in the Europa League, rattled in nine from 12 appearances.

The striker, who represented Tanzania at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, began his professional career with Simba SC in his homeland and is the reigning holder of the Ebony Shoe, the prize awarded to the best African player in Belgium.

It is a transfer which has left the East African region celebrating and some have promised to rally behind Aston Villa and help them to avoid being relegated as they are currently lying 18th on 22 points after 23 matches.

However, before he features for Villa, Samatta will have to seal a UK work permit.

As the player has been living and working in Belgium since 2016, there is a outside possibility that the player may have applied for Belgian citizenship and an EU passport under a Belgian naturalisation law that allows applicants who possesses exceptional merits in the fields of sport, culture, or science to be granted citizenship if they meet a number of other criteria. This is not currently clear.

Strict rules

The forward has been enjoying his time in European football, but if a move to England is to be approved, Samatta will have to pass the strict rules that are applied to non-EU players, who do not hold EU passports,  who will essentially have a job and will be working in England.

As Tanzania is outside of the European Union and the European Economic Area, Samatta will need permission to work in the UK. How will Samatta get a work permit though?

The Football Association apply a points-based system, and clubs have to apply to the FA for a ‘Governing Body Endorsement’ - which acts as somewhat of a waiver, which permits the Home Office and FA to allow a work permit to be granted.

Passing the points system means a work permit is offered, but that only happens for players who are senior internationals for nations who rank in the top ten in the FIFA World Rankings. 

Tanzania are 134th. This means Samatta will have to gather enough points through a number of other criteria.

For example, Samatta will gain points if he has played in a high percentage of available minutes for Genk, he will gain points for playing in European competition and internationally for Tanzania (though due to their low FIFA ranking, he will need to have played more games than say, an Argentine forward). 

He will gain points for earning a ‘qualifying wage’ a higher than average wage that shows the player to be of a certain value, and will gain points for the transfer fee paid.

Even if Samatta does not pass the points-based system, he will still have a chance as an FA Exceptions Panel can review and grant a ‘Governing Body Endorsement’ if an appeal is submitted by Villa.    - Agencies 

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