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Club v Country

By Anthony Lamb :  18/01/2008 :  Comments (20) :
So Tim Cahill seems to have decided that he will participate in any Australian game irrespective of its implications for Everton?

If this is true it seems to me that somebody somewhere needs to get a very firm general grip of this situation. Taking Cahill's case as an example, here we have a paid employee of a club arbitrarily deciding that in his own best interests and out of his own personal preferences he wishes to take up the option of playing for his country. (Let us leave aside for a moment the fact that very little of Cahill's progress in the professional game seems to have been down to the Australian Football Authorities) A desire and a decision that is seemingly oblivious to the impact this may have on the well-being of the club who are paying him astronomical sums of money to enhance the clubs performance and status in the professional game in the Premier Division.

No doubt written into his contract will be a clause which says that he will be released for his own national side whenever that may be necessary which if so would be another example of the pendulum having swung so far towards the interests of individual footballers that the balance needed in all commercial and employment transactions is completely skewed.

Together with the need for Everton to try and comensate for the loss of their African players (accepted that the club knew about this when they employed them), nevertheless this is another possible example of Everton's progress being severely compromised by factors in a sense "beyond their control in the current climate". Is it not about time that the clubs took a stand on this matter and refuse to be strait-jacketed by players at any stage of their employment?

I am no contractual/employment law lawyer and until any legal changes can possibly be made to correct the balance is it perhaps time for the clubs themselves to explain to their supporters that Player A has not been signed because the clauses being asked for are detrimental to the clubs well being?

May I hasten to add that I think the world of Tim Cahill as a player with Everton and it is because of his integral importance to the team that I think this scenario if true is grossly unfair on the club and its supporters. I can well understand his desire to play for Australia in a particular match but surely the decision as to whether he should be allowed to do so rests with his employers?

Reader Comments

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Dan McKie
1   Posted 18/01/2008 at 14:26:17

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Has he even been called up yet? He just stated that if the Aussies need him then he will play but the manager is going to use domestic based players where he can! If clubs got to choose weather or not to let their players go on international duty then why would they ever say yes? Its just what happens when you sign players from certain parts of the world!
Joe McParland
2   Posted 18/01/2008 at 14:30:56

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If the Aussies want to pick him then we cant do anything about it, as under F.I.F.A. rules we have to release him for internationals the same way as we’ve had to release the Africans for AFCON.
Jay Harris
3   Posted 18/01/2008 at 14:48:33

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Absolutely correct Joe and whilst we are all EFC biased it should make us proud to have players recognised at international level.
Anyway Cahill has also said he will make himself available for our 2 games either side of this international game so I don't see a problem.
Martin Cutler
4   Posted 18/01/2008 at 15:47:32

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The first three comments took the words right out of my mouth!
I would be shocked to hear Cahill say anything different...and the flip side of that is a player saying he wouldn’t be available as and when his country needed him...this you never hear (well, rarely) so all he’s done is vocalised what any player would do......I can’t imagine for one second that any player (any country) wants to hurt their club team when selected but the player has no real say over that...they don’t control the fixture list and as somebody pointed out....the club has to release them anyway.

My only gripe with Cahill (not the player but the situation) is when he plays "down under" that’s a lot of travelling time. He might not be 100% for any game for EFC that was close to his return....I would assume he’ll miss two games if he plays for Oz (the 2nd and 9th) ... I just hope he’s fit and ready for the 13th (UEFA game).
Paul McCann
5   Posted 18/01/2008 at 15:52:51

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Anthony,

You’ve said ’No doubt written into his contract will be a clause which says that he will be released for his own national side whenever that may be necessary’.

The fact is that he doesn’t need such a clause in his contract, because as others have pointed out under FIFA rules clubs must release players for their international matches or face sanction from the governing body [as threatened in the recent case of Pienaar].

I think that there’s a bit of an undercurrent of disrespect for Australia as a footballing nation in your post. Why shouldn’t Cahill play for his nation, when plenty of players regularly travel to Africa and South America to play for theirs. In fact, Australia have actually been more reasonable than most nations in playing some recent frendlies in England to cut down on travelling for their players [the majority of whom are Europe based]. This strategy is beneficial to both the national side and the players’ clubs, though I’m not sure how the public back home in Australia feel about it.

A better outlet for our frustrations would be lobbying the national, continental and world goverining bodies to play friendlies,competative matches and tournaments at sensible times in the calender by standardising the football season and international breaks worldwide, though that might be asking too much...
Paul Lenehan
6   Posted 18/01/2008 at 15:52:41

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I can’t blame a player for wanting to play for his country. I am a solicitor and football is unlike any other employment scenario. I am certain players do not have matters regarding international football written into their contract. It is FIFA rules which legislates for international football and clubs responsibilities. It is unique that the emplyers and principles in an emplyment contract have no say as to whether or not a player can go away to Africa for example, possibly come back injured and not only have to take it but receive no compensation. But that is football and for International football to continue players employed by clubs will have to be released. FIFA can help the situation. There is no need for the ACN to be played in February every 2 yrs, considering so many of the players will be contracted to European clubs. FIFA need to get their act togther and on a global basis try and establish international windows which don’t interfer with club games. This will be difficult as different leagues start at different times but at least some proper discussions about a very live problem would show that FIFA are serious about finding a solution instead of the chaos we have now. Otherwise in the near future you could find some Bosman type litigation relating to compensation and clubs rights. FIFA simply need to be a lot more active in finding solutions, but I can’t blame the footballers.
John Turner
7   Posted 18/01/2008 at 16:36:17

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The AFCON must be played at this time of year due to it being the dry season.
Paul McCann
8   Posted 18/01/2008 at 16:43:49

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John,

I know that weather conditions are taken into account when scheduling tournaments, but Africa’s a big place. There must be somewhere on the continent [I would suspect that there are plenty of countries] where the AFCON can, and should, be played in June or July.
Paul Hardcastle
9   Posted 18/01/2008 at 16:53:38

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And what are they going to do when they get the World Cup? Say it too has to be played in the dry season? What a load of absolute bollocks!!!
Ray Roche
10   Posted 18/01/2008 at 17:42:15

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If all International associations had to pay the wages of any player they used during that players club?s season do you think that they would be so insistent in holding tournaments during the European seasons?
Nick Heady
11   Posted 18/01/2008 at 17:56:24

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Surely a player's worth is increased by being a recognised international. Swings and roundabouts.
Declan Burke
12   Posted 18/01/2008 at 18:01:23

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Well said Ray. If a player leaves a club to play for his country, let his association pay his wages for the period he is not available to his club.
If say a European international player was playing in Australia or Africa would their clubs pay him for the period he was away on international duty?
Colin Grierson
13   Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:28:21

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There can be no greater honour for a footballer than to don the shirt of his country.
As our squad develops and the form of individuals attracts the attention of their national coaches we will find ourselves having to deal with the ?problem? of international football.
I for one am made up to have such a problem as it is a clear indicator that our players are some of the best around. How often have we been able to say that?
Trina Maher
14   Posted 19/01/2008 at 00:35:33

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Would we even be having this discussion if Cahill played for a European country? You can?t moan just because a player needs to travel ? ok, to the other side of the world ? to represent his country. I don?t remember articles questioning club v country when selections were being made for the England or Scotland teams. I don?t really see the difference.
Steve Carter
15   Posted 19/01/2008 at 04:17:43

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Yes, the "he who pays the piper calls the tune (or at least should do so)" argument is a reasonable one, Anthony. What, perhaps understandably, you do not fully appreciate is the "true blue" Aussie mentality. For Australian sportsmen and women, playing for the national team is the ultimate: there is no "club v country" dilemma. Even Kewell, who feigns injury for the whole of the EPL season for the benefit of our redshite friends, somehow drags himself onto the field for the Socceroos just about every time. Aussies just don’t comprehend the "I don’t care about England, I only care about Everton" perspective.
Mike Kennedy
16   Posted 19/01/2008 at 08:40:55

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All top clubs are affected by Internationals it is one of the levellers in the game. I was always pissed off when I heard the top 4 complain about losing players to international matches and I have no complaints now that we are in the fortunate position to attract top players and they want to play for their country. If you stop someone like Cahill playing for his country you will probably lose the player. I admire Cahill for his passion and loyalty to his country.
Tony Anetts
17   Posted 19/01/2008 at 10:09:56

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Anthony you have either a biased or narrow view. If Joleon Lescott, who is in the prime of his footballing life, decided that playing for England in a World Cup qualifier was less important than playing for Everton there would be an outcry in the media and amongst Everton supporters - and his ambition questioned. For Tim Cahill, playing for his country is the ultimate - and particularly since he fought so hard to be recognised as being eligible for Australia having played for Samoa under 20s. Tim is as important to the Socceroos as he is to Everton, as he scores more often than not, and when he finishes his higher level career he will return home to Australia and be largely remembered here for what he did in the Green and Gold. That said - it would be nice if Asia and Australia weren’t so far away!!
Dave Pilkington
18   Posted 19/01/2008 at 20:07:49

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Peraphs in future we should sign more players from the lower regions of the football league, we then wouldn’t have this problem. we would of course have a shit football team ! As a blue since 1968 I’ve seen my fair share of rubbish at Goodison, If Cahill wants to go then let him. If we want quality players then we have to put up with missing them for one or two games
Dick Fearon
19   Posted 19/01/2008 at 23:49:33

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It is a pity that Anichebe does not have the same loyalty toward the country of his birth as does Cahill.
Dick Fearon
20   Posted 20/01/2008 at 00:05:59

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Appologies to Anichebe, I have now done what I should have done before submitting my previous letter.
In checking facts I found that Victor was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Mea Culpa!.

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