MADRID (AP) – Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa says his international allegiance belongs to Spain, not his native Brazil.
The Spanish football federation says Costa, who is of Brazilian origin but also a Spanish national, had ''verbally manifested his intention of playing with the national team'' to coach Vicente del Bosque on Thursday.
The RFEF said in a statement on its website that Costa will not be selected by Del Bosque for upcoming World Cup qualifying games, however, since the paperwork was not ready.
The in-form Atletico striker has been the standout player for the Spanish league co-leaders, with eight goals in seven games overall.
The World Cup champions can qualify for next year's tournament in Brazil with victories against Belarus and Georgia next week. A statement on the official website of the RFEF read:
"Diego Costa wants to play for the Spanish national team, although bureaucracy inhibits this for the moment. Atletico Madrid player Diego Costa can not be selected tomorrow by manager Vicente del Bosque for the upcoming games against Belarus and Georgia as FIFA have demanded additional paperwork, which is already being undertaken, even though the player has verbally expressed to the Spanish coach his desire to play for his national team in the future."