Domenech reopens feud with Chelsea over national team duty

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The Independent Online

The France coach Raymond Domenech yesterday reopened his dispute with the Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho by calling on football's two main authorities to stop players being pressurised by their clubs to ignore international call-ups.

Last month Domenech ridiculed Mourinho's criticism of his decision to pick Claude Makelele for the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign despite the player's apparent wish to retire from the international game. Mourinho accused Domenech of treating Makelele like a "slave", to which he responded by saying, "he [Makelele] is the slave, I am the slave driver".

Speaking at the end of a three-day coaches' conference here that was attended by, among others, the England manager Steve McClaren, Domenech said that the club versus country debate needed to be enshrined in the laws of the game.

"I want Uefa and Fifa to play a part in fighting this negative element where clubs are preventing players from turning up for their national squads and putting pressure on players not to go," Domenech said. "We all need to recognise that the World Cup and European Championships and the other big matches between national teams are the peak of football.

"We need to protect players and make sure the clubs don't throw a spanner in the works. I would like to call for that officially. Discussions about fixtures and so on are fine but we need to bear in mind there is nothing to replace the World Cup and European Championship. It is a top priority that we protect international football."

After three days of discussions among more than 70 of the world's top national coaches, Domenech said that the idea of rugby-style sin-bins had also generated considerable debate but that he and his peers were not yet sure that they should be implemented by law. As a principle, however, he was in favour.

"We talked about the possibility of temporary sendings off, in other words sin-bins," he said. "If you have lots of yellow cards the opposition team does not really get the benefit if you get a suspension, it only affects the next match so we raised the question of whether a sin-bin would be a viable solution."

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