Anelka risks ban after refusing to play for France

The turbulent career of Nicolas Anelka took another bizarre series of twists and turns yesterday. First the striker put his international career in jeopardy when he refused to play for France after a late call-up for Wednesday's friendly against Yugoslavia.

Then it emerged that Fifa, the game's world governing body, would almost certainly ban Anelka from playing in Manchester City's Premiership match at Middlesbrough on Saturday as the French authorities invoked a rule that threatens to add more fuel to the club-versus-country debate.

The furore started when Anelka said he would not be answering Jacques Santini's call-up to replace the Lyon striker Sydney Govou, who withdrew with a thigh strain on Sunday. "My call-up seems forced, not really wanted, as if I'm just a stop-gap," said Anelka, who has 28 caps and has scored six goals but who has not played since a World Cup warm-up against Russia. in April. "I need to feel really wanted in order to be able to give my best... and I feel the staff don't have confidence in me. I saw the coach last week and he did not give me arguments which convinced me."

Santini was at first unaware of Anelka's absence from the training camp just outside of Paris, but on learning of it quickly contacted the French Football Federation. "The sanction will be implemented. It's not me, it's the federation's rules," Santini said.

The FFF announced that it had begun "proceedings to suspend Nicolas Anelka from playing for Manchester City". This will likely mean a one-match ban as Fifa regulations state that a player refusing to play for his country cannot be fielded by his club during the period for which he has been released. Article 40 goes on to say: "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 summons."

Anelka also falls foul of the FFF's own regulations which state that a player refusing a call up should be banned for two matches. The French would need the co-operation of the English FA to enforce this but the FFF say it will attempt to ban him for one game immediately. "The FFF considers that Nicolas Anelka is suspended right now for the first official meeting of his club following November 18, 2002," a statement said

Anelka, perhaps realising what the implications could be, pleaded with Santini to accept his decision. "All this has been maturely reflected on and I believe this is understandable. I hope that the coach will respect my choice as I respected his in the past, and, of course, I hope to play for Les Bleus again.

"I was asked if this was the reaction of a spoilt child. It is not. A spoilt child is someone who has always had what he wanted, but I left home at 13, I left my parents and all that I had. I worked to get what I have and I believe I deserve it."

There was some sympathy in the French camp for Anelka. Emmanuel Petit, the Chelsea midfielder who has played with Anelka for both Arsenal and France, said it would be wrong to "demonise" him. "Coaches have chosen to snub Anelka, and he respected these decisions, now this is our turn to respect Anelka's choices. Nicolas knows the consequences of such a decision... I don't think it will cause him to lose any sleep."

Fifa said last night it would wait to receive an official letter from the FFF before making a decision. Manchester City declined to comment, but will doubtless feel aggrieved that what had been a productive start to Anelka's Maine Road career – seven League goals already this season – will have to be put on hold after his £13m transfer from Paris St-Germain in the summer.

They will also feel aggrieved that others who have refused to play for their country in the past – Duncan Ferguson most famously – have had no such ban.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home