Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Barcelona and Inter Milan Speak Out on Club v. Country

The debate continues. Which is more important? Playing for your club or playing for your country? As you know, with the 2008 African Cup of Nations due to begin in January, many Africans playing in Europe will have to leave their squads mid-season to represent their country.

We've covered this often in the past. Today, two reports of big clubs making their feelings known over this issue.

First, Barcelona.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Tuesday that national teams should pay clubs for the use of their players.

"It's a disgrace that we have to let our international players go to national teams and we don't receive any compensation," Laporta told the Spanish club's Web site (www.fcbarcelona.com).

"The national teams are doing business using our footballers. It's an issue being looked at by UEFA and FIFA but I don't see a willingness to resolve it when they could do something immediately. If they don't resolve the situation we'll have to consider not releasing our players for international duty."

Strong words from the Barca president. Will this affect Samuel Eto'o in his comeback from injury and his play for Cameroon in the Nations Cup?

Then this, from Inter Milan, whose Director of Sport Marco Branca told L'Equipe's Web site (www.lequipe.fr) on Tuesday that he believed midfielder Patrick Vieira was at risk for injury in Wednesday's Euro 2008 Group B qualifier against Scotland in Paris because he has just recovered from a hamstring injury.

The Serie A champions also expressed concern about Vieira's fitness before Saturday's 0-0 draw with Italy in Milan, which the France captain played from start to finish.

"I have never chosen between club and country. If I'm all right I play for one and for the other," the 31-year-old midfielder told a news conference later on Tuesday.

"If Inter prefer to speak via newspapers instead of telling me what they think, it is their problem. I don't usually talk about this sort of thing in the newspapers. I'm disappointed."

The issue won't go away and it's one that effects Africa specifically, what with their scheduling of the Cup of Nations smack in the middle of the European season.

What can be done to rectify this and appease the countries? A fee system? Compensation of some sort?

More on this soon ...

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