Marianno Lugo, known simply as “Nanno”, to those in his inner circle is a child on a mission. He is a simple child. Enjoys reading books, writes a bit of simple computer code and loves to play European football.
In February 2014, his parents, business people and technology developers, decided to move to Barcelona. At the time, Nanno wasn’t enrolled in any kind of footballing school. In May of the same year, Nanno learned through some schoolmates that they played organized football at a Penya FCB Barcelonista club, sometimes referred to as supporter clubs.
Like any child who loves football, he asked his parents to enroll him in a club. It wasn’t until September 2014 that Nanno began to play organized football at the base level. In other words, not official enough to fall under FIFA Article 19 rules. The matches played at this level are not official. The season went well for him. No interruptions or FIFA interference at all.
In June 2015, Nanno was moved to another Penya FCB Barcelonista closer to his academic school. It made it easier and more convenient for his parents. The transfer and enrollment went smoothly until late September.
When the official season started, Nanno’s license to play in official matches wasn’t approved along with his other teammates’ licenses. According to the Penya, Nanno’s parents needed to submit additional documents to prove income, residency, residency length, birth certificates of parents and child, passport copies of the entire family, bank statements and tax forms. This wasn’t enough for the FCF, Catalan Football Federation or Federació Catalana de Futbol, whom refers to FIFA regulation Article 19. “The federation continuously denied Nanno’s license and we didn’t have a clue what else to do”, said Ale Aguzzi, Nanno’s mother. “We came to Spain for business and it wasn’t football business. It was app development business. That still is our main focus,” she added.
At this very young age, Nanno has some marketing background as well as support from his parents who happen to professional marketers. Feeling discriminated against, he started a hashtag campaign using his parents Facebook social network. Within a couple of days, he had famous faces with #LetNannoPlay and #FairPlay4Kids selfies. The likes of Hollywood stars and professional athletes started in-boxing the eight year old with selfies and words of support for Nanno’s cause. Nanno wrote a letter and video taped it directed to the FCF stressing that he has done no wrong to deserve this punishment. Noting that he simply wants to play football with his teammates. He is planning a kids’ book entitled “El niño que no se le permitió jugar”. (The kid who wasn’t allowed to play). It’s a short story, unfortunately based on a true-story. It’s a story about a kid that fell into FIFA’s broad vicious net of senseless rules and regulations. This one happens to be Article 19, which violates human rights and more importantly young innocent children’s rights. This must change.