Marianno Lugo, a sharp multilingual American-Costa Rica born student soccer player, who is only eight year old is determined to play the game he loves and he is ready to face up to FIFA.
In early October, his parents were informed by the FC Barcelona youth club Penya Anguera that Marianno, known as Nanno, will not be allowed to play in league sanctioned games per a FIFA rule handed down to football federations across Spain.
As a result of the FIFA rule, at least 1500 children are not able to play in the weekly league matches. Nanno like any child didn’t take the news lightly. But unlike other children, he decided to take on the FIFA giant with the help of his father and mother. Within a few hours from being benched for the first time, he created the slogan and hashtag #LetNannoPlay and quickly was being spread across the globe via social media using YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
The next 24 hours proved that the cause would take flight. The Let Nanno Play hashtag started to appear on well-known actors’ Facebook pages. Puerto Rican actor, Luis Guzman, known for his many movie rolls including Anger Management with Jack Nicholson responded to Nanno’s inbox message with the phrase “LET HIM PLAY!!!!” along with a selfie photo with his daughter. Another Puerto Rican actor, Luis Antonio Ramos, known for his role in the hit show POWER starting rapper 50 Cent, sent Nanno a selfie with the handwritten hashtag on what appeared to be a movie script. Former NBA Miami Heat player and now Barcelona star Carlos Arroyo met with Nanno after a F.C. Barcelona basketball game and snapped a photo holding a sign with Nanno’s hashtag.
“We are getting support from people we never met before. Total strangers are asking how they can help promote and spread the word”, said Ale Aguzzi, Nanno’s mother. “The show of support brings tears to my eyes knowing that so people are now wanting to help Nanno play the game he loves. We will not go out without a fight. FIFA needs to realize that some rules are hurting children even though they were meant to help and protect a very small few number. They are hurting thousands”, she added.
Nanno continues to work the social media campaign a few hours a day around school work and team practice. “I will continue to practice with my team. I consider myself a leader and only a non-leader will quit”, said Nanno. “I want to play football and FIFA is not letting me. This is making me sad”, he ended.
Several calls by the Lugos to FIFA have not been answered. The Federation Catalana of Football (@FCF_CAT) says they are overwhelmed with the paperwork that FIFA is requiring from foreign born children and have even set up a provincial team to handle the workload. FCF’s only communication with the Lugo is via the Penya Anguera.