Monday, September 11, 2006

Post Script.

So, Raymond Domenech is prepared to make some concessions... he'll only pick Claude Makelele for competitive fixtures. When I railed against the France coach's arrogant rejection of common sense last week, I assumed UEFA would soon have to intervene; but after Domenech's comments on Friday (see the ever helpful guardian), I cannot imagine that Chelsea will do anything but take the issue to the highest authority.

Domenech claims the "law" is behind in him, and that picking Makelele for internationals is only fair and just, "even against his [Makelele's] own wishes". This fatuous claim makes a mockery of the current situation, whereby a player can currently be suspended from playing for his domestic side, in the event of his refusal to attend an international fixture once called up. This law, which is sensible in that it prevents clubs dictating which of their players can or cannot be selected for international duty, has been twisted by the France manager into a means of half-nelsoning the unfortunate Monsieur Makelele into abiding by his demands. It apparently isn't enough that Makelele retired once before, only to be persuaded to go back on this (2005 BBC report): now he must remain in servitude to his national side until they see fit to eject him from the set-up, or, presumably, his legs give out from under him - although whether that would be enough to persuade Domenech not to select him again remains to be seen.

As I argued before, this course of action violates an unwritten agreement, that when a player sees the dying of the light, and opts to prolong his years in the game (and presumably his chance to earn money before retirement and obscurity, or worse, Football Focus) by absenting himself from the field of international competition, the presiding manager keeps his side of the deal, ie. doesn't name him in the next sodding squad. If a coach can bend the rules in his favour, to override any sense of free agency an aging player may have, then the governing body may be forced to draw up an official system - which would doubtless be open to abuse. FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren's comments appear to support Makelele, in that by putting his international retirement in writing, he would not be subject to a ban; but it appears someone has yet to inform Domenech of this.

At any rate, I look forward to seeing how the affair pans out. Domenech's eccentricity was a feature of the World Cup, and perhaps we'll now bear witness to a bizarre game of one-upmanship between the Frenchman and the equally crackpot Chelsea boss. Given the pugnacious nature of both, it could be fun.

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