The very future of international football could lie in doubt as Belgian club Charleroi pursue a landmark court case against the sport’s international governing body, FIFA.
Charleroi is hardly a groundbreaking name in world football, with perhaps their most notable honour coming in 1993 as losing finalists of the Belgian FA Cup.
However, the club have hit the headlines as they proceed in sueing FIFA for an injury picked up by one of their leading players – Abdelmajid Oulmers – whilst he was on international duty with Morocco.
The club feel they are entitled to compensation for losing Oulmers and are confident of success as they prepare a milestone case. Should the Jupiter League outfit be successful, the consequences could be detrimental for the very future of the international game.
A courtroom victory for Charleroi would pave the way for all clubs, regardless of size or stature, to appeal for compensation if one of their players is injured whilst representing their country. The financial implications for many footballing nations, including the likes of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, would surely be unaffordable.
Charleroi’s case is being backed by the G14 – an organisation which represents, in their own words, Europe’s ‘top’ eighteen football clubs. Their support adds weight to Charleroi’s case and has left FIFA sweating over a verdict which could deny the world’s football supporters the chance to witness another World Cup.
Victory for Charleroi would see football associations forced to fork out mammoth amounts of money on expensive insurance packages to protect themselves, should injury to players occur. This is absolute madness and cannot be allowed to happen.
International football is an amazing phenomenon. The 2006 World Cup finals showed how, in England and across the globe, the excitement and tension surrounding such a tournament can bring a nation together. The extinction of such occasions would suck the heart out of the game and would mark another success for the money-hungry businessmen who are enjoying an ever-increasing influence in this country’s national sport.
It is a bitter blow for fans and officials alike at any football club if a player picks up an injury, particularly when away on international duty. However, it is a fact of life that injuries do occur and the world’s football associations should not be punished as a consequence. International football is a unique and special occasion for football supporters and every effort must be made to preserve it.
The case is waiting to be heard at the European Court of Justice and a Charleroi victory would have unthinkable consequences for the very future of our beautiful game. Let’s hope the powers-that-be see sense.
By Chris O’Brien