USMNT fans launch petition asking Barack Obama to fast-track Gedion Zelalem's citizenship | SIDELINE

Gedion Zelalem, Arsenal

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Online soccer petitions and open letters are all the rage these days.

There is, of course, the peition from earlier this week in which a group of supporters are trying to bring a Major League Soccer team to San Antonio. Meanwhile, some fans at Chivas USA are interested in buying the team. Not a bad week to start a movement.

What we haven't had for a while, though, is a petition to expedite the citizenship application process for Player X in order to make him eligible for the US national team. Those are always the most fun — if not a bit of a pipe dream.

On Thursday, it all started with a tweet, and a call-to-action for President Barack Obama.

Gedion Zelalem is the promising 17-year-old midfielder who made his debut for Arsenal during an early-round FA Cup match in January. He also happened to live in the United States from the time he was nine years old until he turned 16 and moved to London, which is where the intrigue comes into play.

He also happens to be German and Ethiopian — two countries for which he already holds passports, thus the ability to play for those respective national teams — which is where the problem, and need for the petition, comes from.

Back to Thursday, once the petition launched, its efforts didn't go unnoticed.

OK, so Zelalem's got a sense of humor. Note to self: Must incorporate more pandering jokes into the campaign.

At this point, though, regardless of all the chatter and urging, Zelalem appears more likely to opt for Germany. After all, he has represented them at the youth levels.

So might the president, a man who has never shied away from expressing his sports fanaticism, be influenced by the power of the ubiquitous online petition?