I admit that I can be as lazy as your average Journo, though I don’t consider myself a Journo. Point in case, yesterday, 7amkickoff published a story about Arsenal pursuing action through FIFA to have Chelsea investigated for playing Michael Essien “illegally.” Almost every report I read yesterday contained a brief mention that Chelsea could be possibly even docked points for playing Essien though we all know that the the more likely punishment in the form of a sternly worded warning like:
Messers Abramovich and Chelsea, Please do not violate FIFA rules again (again) or we might have to do something that we will rescind later, as we did in the Gael Kakuta case. Thank you and please no polonium in our Corn Flakes, thank you sorry for bothering you thank you…
Sincerely and with all deference, FIFA
I took the whole thing a bit seriously and even went to the Ghana FA web site for some quotes, which even the Telegraph and others (ESPN, etc) didn’t do, so I felt like I had covered most of the bases.
Until one of my regular readers asked if anyone knew which FIFA rule Chelsea had supposedly violated — DOH… Well, yeah, I (and anyone else who reported on the story) probably should have looked that up.
The problem is that the rule itself is actually kind of hard to find, because it’s hidden in a rule set called “Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.”
Once I found it, the rule itself is pretty straight forward:
Article 5 Restrictions on playing
A player who has been called up by his association for one of its
representative teams is, <b>unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association,</b> not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe. This restriction on playing for the club shall, moreover, be prolonged by five days in the event that the player, for whatsoever reason, did not wish to or was unable to comply with the call-up.
Basically the Ghana FA (not Arsenal or anyone else) has to complain and ask that the player be banned, FIFA then tells the FA of their responsibility and they then decide whether to ban the player in question. I still think that this leaves a lot of room for corruption and collusion, but that’s a whole ‘nother article.
The Ghana FA is not pursuing a ban, they have fined him and his 2 other teammates and made him apologize. Full Stop.
Oh, one last detail that I uncovered in researching this. There have been two notable times in the past where players have either been threatened with a ban or actually had FIFA ban them; Nicolas Anelka and Mark Viduka.
Both players “pulled an Essien” and refused to show up for an International friendly after their national sides called them up. In the case of Anelka, the FFF threatened a ban but in typical French fashion quickly surrendered and asked the English FA to pursue the matter. They didn’t and Anelka played.
Viduka, on the other hand refused to fly to Venezuela for a friendly and his National association, the Australian Soccer Association (ASA), vigorously pursued a ban and Viduka missed a crucial game against Manchester United. Leeds were relegated that season and have never been back up in the Premier League. There was some fallout among the ASA players, who were angered by the ASA’s treatment of Viduka and perhaps my Antipodean reader(s?) can comment on that.
Irregardless, the point is that it’s the National side who hold all the cards, which makes this Essien flap a non-story as far as I can tell… except maybe we all learned a little about FIFA rules!
Do you think any “real” reporters will read this and learn something?
Not really much going on in Arsenal world today. Denilson picked up a back injury and most of us are hoping is not a recurrence of the back problems which kept him out of the side for the last few months. We need him healthy for the dark months of January when Song departs for the ACN.
The good news is that Eboue will be healthy and available and I suspect that the boss will look to replace Sagna with Eboue for tomorrow’s clash, giving the Frenchman a well deserved rest.
I expect the dot com will release Wenger’s presser later this afternoon and so I’ll give a match preview tomorrow.
See you then, if not sooner, since I have another article idea kicking around in my head — maybe it will kick its way out of my head and into the computer?