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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