Michael Ballack was last night at the centre of a bizarre dispute between Chelsea, the German football federation (DFB) and his club's sponsors, Adidas, over whether he was allowed to remain in Germany for a film-shoot.
Ballack was understood to be despairing at Chelsea's failure to tell him if he could miss training today. Only last night was he finally told he had permission to remain in Germany after a wrangle that had lasted all weekend.
The Germany captain is already hugely disillusioned at his club's decision not to name him in their Champions League squad because of doubts over when he will recover from an ankle injury that has plagued him since April. Yesterday he was at loggerheads with the club yet again.
Ballack, 30, travelled to Germany on Thursday, with the club's permission, to visit the surgeon who performed his ankle operation in April. He also visited the Adidas technology centre in Scheinfeld near Nüremberg to see if they could find him a boot to relieve the pain in his left ankle that remains after two operations.
However, he still required permission from Chelsea to stay in Cologne today to film a television commercial with Adidas that will be used when Germany play in Euro 2008. Despite attempts from the hierarchy of the DFB, including the assistant manager Oliver Bierhoff, and senior figures at Adidas to contact Chelsea, no answer had been received by later afternoon yesterday. Ballack was due to fly back to the UK in the early evening.
When high-profile players take part in commercials there are issues of insurance that need to be approved by their employer in order for them to participate. There was no question of Ballack kicking a football in the commercial, which is due to feature Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bernd Schneider and Kevin Kuranyi as well as other members of the Germany squad. However, the DFB and Adidas were unable to reach senior figures at Chelsea including the chief executive, Peter Kenyon, who is due back from a holiday in Cyprus today.
Adidas have an eight-year kit deal with Chelsea, signed last year and worth around £100m. It is understood the date for shooting the commercial was set at least four weeks ago.
Ballack's recovery has not reached the stage where he is able to run on grass and there are fears that he may yet need another operation. A tackle from Titus Bramble, then of Newcastle, on 22 April chipped a bone and the fragment was removed. Despite trips to various specialists in Europe, no-one has been able to ascertain the source of the pain in Ballack's ankle. The player has fallen behind Wayne Bridge in the timetable of his rehabilitation. The England left-back is now set to be back in around two weeks' time.
That justifies the decision to include Bridge in the Champions League squad, but Ballack has not been told why he was left out in favour of players such as third-choice goalkeeper Hilario and third-choice right-back Paulo Ferreira.Reuse content