Colautti approved for residency in Israel

Maccabi Haifa striker's application for temporary residency status in Israel approved.

Roberto Colautti received notice Tuesday from the Interior Ministry that his application for temporary residency status in Israel has been approved, paving the way for the Maccabi Haifa striker to represent the Israeli national team in the future. A spokesperson for the Population Registry called the Argentinian-born player, who is married to an Israeli, in Austria, where he is at a training camp with Maccabi Haifa. Colautti's status grants him an ID card, social benefits and the ability to vote in municipal elections, but stops short of granting him a passport and the right to vote in national elections. Colautti, 24, first applied for the status after his wedding this past March. The status should have been awarded in September, but the ministry agreed to speed up the process to help Maccabi Haifa and the Israel national team prepare for the coming season. Based on past cases, Colautti will not be counted against Haifa's limit for foreign players in Premier League games and will likely be granted permission to play for Israel. Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Giovanni Rosso and Betar Jerusalem forward Toto Tamuz both are temporary residents and are recognized as Israelis for Premier League purposes. Rosso cannot play for Israel, because he has already represented his native Croatia, but Tamuz has played for Israel's Olympic team. "We're delighted with the decision," Maccabi Haifa coach Roni Levy told his team's official Web site. "The importance of granting him [temporary residency] isn't just in Maccabi Haifa's interest, but also [that of] the national team and the country. Now the national team will benefit from an excellent striker and Haifa will benefit from Anderson, who will be a very serious addition." The coach was referring to Brazilian midfielder Anderson Concei o Xavier, who will now be registered as the club's fifth foreign player. Colautti will not officially receive his new ID Card and status until he picks it up in person from the Interior Ministry offices in Haifa, which have been closed due to the situation in the north. He can be eligible for full citizenship in four years.