Rarely do footballers come around that experience a whirlwind trip to the top of the heap, get embroiled in a dirge of controversy, and somehow maintain a level of play that allows them to weather the massive storm. Franck Ribery is no ordinary soccer story, and his play is always anything BUT ordinary. The Bayern Munich winger, now 31, has amassed every success possible at the club level, and has accomplished all of this while being a huge part of the French national team that has not found the success that Ribery experienced in 2006. So, when a player like Ribery decides to lower the curtain on his international career, the process would seem relatively simple.
However, with UEFA and a certain Frenchman clouding up the waters, a host of dangerous questions has been raised.
After Ribery, who had suffered a difficult injury and missed the 2014 World Cup, announced his retirement, UEFA and UEFA prez Platini stated that Ribery turning down a true invitation to return to the French national team would result in harsh penalties. Apparently, rules are in place that would see Ribery suspended for three games with his club and the possibility of massive fines looming…all punishments that can be flung from someone that may be a little to close to the situation (Platini IS French).
Now, while I understand that any player should be honored to put on the national team jersey (plus, they do get paid), any person is allowed to retire from their craft whenever they want. If I retire tomorrow, The Center Circle and SoccerPro could not hunt me down and fine me/suspend me from a second job that I may have. If Ribery has decided that he has chased international glory for long enough and that he would like to focus on other aspects of his life (once again, at the age of 31…an age very close to where most players start to ponder international and maybe even club retirement), then he should be allowed to do so without any type of intrusion by any governing body.
The biggest difference that could possibly arise would be if he were attempting to retire after being tied down to some type of contract. With a club, it would probably be written into your contract that you could not leave after signing a deal that rewarded you with lots of money. Just imagine the scandal if Rooney had signed a new deal with United during his last contract dispute and then promptly quit the Red Devils…the legal ramifications and sheer negative publicity would be immense. However, once again, this is international football. Players are on a “pay for play” monetary basis and you have no guarantee that you will be part of the squad.
If Ribery is called up and Platini hands down punishments, it will further strain the relationship between club/international associations and strain the bond between players and the governing bodies of soccer (as if they were not already strained enough). Hopefully, the national team manager for any country where a player has retired will respect their wishes enough to not place them in this situation, but we also hope that UEFA and FIFA would not make this an issue that will only add to their laundry list of growing problems.
Can you imagine if Ronaldo had decided to retire instead of Ribery? Well, it is entirely possible that the powers of soccer government would not want to be seen in an argument with one of their two biggest draws. But, it would be getting much more scrutiny if Platini had taken this idiotic stance. If they want to play, then they can play…if they do not want to play, then why should they be forced? On the pitch, this game makes sense…off the pitch, it is pure insanity!