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Time to get serious

Time to get serious

The fact that Arsenal has its lawyers looking at grounds for action against the Dutch FA for compensation is an inevitable consequence of the arrogant disdain with which national football associations have treated the clubs. The same clubs that provide them with the star names to generate significant amounts of money from meaningless friendlies.

It`s an issue that has irked the Arsenal manager for some time. A couple of seasons back he famously described the situation as: "What the national coaches are doing is like taking the car from our garage without even asking permission. They will then use the car for ten days and abandon it in a field without any petrol left in the tank. We then have to recover it, but it is broken down. Then a month later they will come to take your car again, and for good measure you're expected to be nice about it."

The injury sustained by Robin van Persie in a purposeless friendly against Italy will cost the club an estimated £1.5million in wages this season. There could also be a claim for the loss of his services and the impact it might have on our ambitions for the season. Though the club is insured it is only an 'Armageddon` policy which means it will only pay out in the event of a career ending injury.

"We are working on this with our lawyers at the moment and we are definitely going for it," Arsene Wenger said. "I expect financial compensation for the damage it can make to the championship and the salary involved. It is especially frustrating to lose your players for the rest of the season in a friendly game. The question has to be raised."

The Dutch FA provides insurance for players of Dutch clubs injured on international duty but not those of overseas clubs. The lawyers should have a field day taking that apart under EU discrimination laws. Both Fifa and Uefa provide for compensation for players injured in the tournaments they are responsible for but not injuries in tournament qualifiers, charity or friendly games. At present it seems only the English FA routinely provide insurance for players injured while under their care.

Arsenal are unhappy with the treatment provided by the Dutch FA and ironically it is a Dutch doctor who carried out the surgery on van Persie who has highlighted the misdiagnosis. But whatever the merits of this individual case action by Arsenal Football Club should be a wakeup call for Fifa, Uefa and the national associations who have got away far too easily with their haughty attitude towards club interests.

Last month Wenger also took issue with the French football association for not allowing Diaby to return to the club keeping him for 10 days after being injured prior to the recent world cup play-offs.

"A player like Abou Diaby goes away and is injured, and you cannot even get him back because they decided to keep him." claimed Arsene.

"The French Federation decided to keep Diaby for political reasons. They knew he would never play, but they didn`t want to call another player up. The result? He comes back, the next day tries to have a run and gets a setback, and we have to deal with the consequences."

I hope this time the club means business. International Football needs to be made aware that there are costs and consequences to their decisions. The conceited mindset of power hungry officials at Fifa and Uefa will not allow them to see logic quickly but their lawyers might. If the club is as determined to pursue this as Wenger seems to be then football will change for the better.

"I am not against the national teams. But at the moment we sit here and they can do what they want," asserts Wenger "There is something completely wrong with the system. I want the power to be rebalanced more in favour of the clubs."

It won't be a short fight - football has always believed it can operate in an entirely different moral and social dimension from other enterprises - but it`s a battle worth fighting and one well worth winning.

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Date:Sunday December 13 2009
Time: 12:00AM


He has put his foot down on Fabregas playing in that Catalonia friendly. He said We don't allow the players to play in friendlies because we have too many games [at Arsenal]," the Frenchman was quoted as saying by the Independent. "In life you always have to do well for the guy who pays you and the rest is less important. If they want to play charity games, the best way to be charitable is to sign a shirt, because basically I consider [playing in games] is on the cost of the club. "In England we play football through the Christmas period. In all the other countries they stop and they play friendlies and charity games. “There is a demand for Cesc but there is a demand for five or six other players. We play on 27 December and I rested the [senior] players against Olympiacos [on Wednesday] and then I have to let them play a friendly?"
13/12/2009 04:03:00
It's funny I was talking with a friend about this just yesterday and saying I thought it represented a sea change in Arsene's actions. You'll also remember that Arshavin was called up by Russia in September when he was injured and they played him anyway. I've used the analogy in another article, but international football has become football's answer to the royal family. Contributes nothing, serves a decorative purpose only and we're supposed to consider it an honour when it takes from us so persistently. I hope the club mean business.
Little Dutch
13/12/2009 06:49:00
The Manager appears to be on the warpath for the "cleansing" of the game of some inexplicable ideologies, which defy normal business (soccer is business, isn't it?) logic. Take the plan to seek clarification from the FA/FIFA on the Essien issue, which could cause Chelsea to be docked 3 points. Arsene's positions on issues are usually (nay! always) well thought through and I consider him an invaluable contributor to the growth of the modern game. This will be a long drawn out battle but very worth the fight; I look forward to him getting support from a couple of gutsy managers who wish for things to be put right, in favour of the clubs; at least, for the sake of case history which will serve as precedents to be referred to in future.
13/12/2009 12:10:00
Good arguments Amos (and Arsene). Now it takes a couple more heavyweight club managers to speak up to get the debate going. But you know Sir Red Nose et al are good at hiding their players in the medical rooms before international breaks - something other managers deal with the problem their own way. It's good to see Arsenal are fighting injustice but we need more support.
13/12/2009 13:05:00
It's a worthy battle. If in the future people refer to it by the Van Persie Case like we talk about the Bosman Ruling now, how awesome would that be!
13/12/2009 13:30:00
I would prefer Wenger to lie like the rest and make up injuries as things will never change
13/12/2009 14:01:00
I agree Paul, how different things would now be if, like Chelsea, we prevented all of our players from participating those meaningless friendlies during the last international break...
13/12/2009 14:40:00
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