FA to ban players who snub England
Published 23:01 10/02/11 By Oliver Holt - EXCLUSIVE
FA bosses will stun football next month by launching a long-awaited fightback against Premier League clubs that sabotage the England team.
An epidemic of player withdrawals from England sides this week convinced FA officials that enough was enough.
They are now so fed up with England teams being undermined, they are ready to declare war on clubs who try to cheat the system.
Starting from the next international date, they will ban players who fail to report for England duty from playing for their club the following weekend.
They were ready to make an example of Newcastle striker Nile Ranger this weekend after he pulled out of Wednesday's England Under-20 match against France without first being checked over by FA medical staff.
Ranger was to be banned from playing against Blackburn tomorrow, but they were forced to postpone the action when they realised Manchester United defender Chris Smalling had been allowed to cry off Under-21 duty without reporting to England.
FIFA rules give the FA the power to prevent a player whose injury has not been verified by England medical staff from playing for his club for five days after an international fixture.
Until now, the FA has not enforced the rule as a gesture of goodwill towards clubs but 22 withdrawals from the full England side and the Under-21s, Under-20s and Under-19s has forced them to act.
The FA are determined to present a united front for the next round of international fixtures at the end of March and enforce the FIFA rule.
If a club insists on fielding a player who had pulled out of an England match without consultation, that club will forfeit the match the player plays in.
The rule would not have affected Steven Gerrard’s availability to play for Liverpool against Wigan tomorrow because his groin injury was checked by England medical staff.
The FA’s new get-tough approach is sure to antagonise Premier League clubs who have grown used to trampling over the England set-up.
But their hard-line stance will delight supporters who blame the clubs’ reluctance to release players for England’s continuing failures at international level.
Newcastle have been identified as a problem club for the England team after previous arguments over the availability of Andy Carroll, who has been sold to Liverpool.
They were desperate to protect Ranger from injury after Carroll’s sale and an injury to Shola Ameobi left them short of attacking options.
But an annexe to Fifa’s statutes is clear.
“A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams,” they say, “is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, 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.”
The problem is not confined to England.
In a bizarre case, Sparta Prague withdrew Czech duo Tomas Pekhart and Vaclav Kadlec and Croatian defender Manuel Pamic from international duty for fitness reasons this week - then fielded all three in a friendly against Zenit St Petersburg in Spain on Wednesday.
In an apparent attempt to disguise the players’ identities, their names didn’t appear on the teamsheet and the three wore jerseys with teammates’ names on them - Pamic playing as Jakub Podany, Kadlec as Pavel Kaderabek and, most bizarrely of all, Pekhart, who is white, as black Cameroonian midfielder Martin Abena.
Sparta’s plan seems to have been rumbled when a Czech journalist recognized the players in photos posted on Zenit's website.