Tuesday, January 8, 2008
South Africa demand Everton sanction
The South African Football Association have called on FIFA to punish Everton after winning the tug of war over Steven Pienaar.
World football's governing body forced the Premier League club to
release the midfielder for the African Nations Cup on Monday, after the Toffees
had tried to delay his departure.
Manager David Moyes was desperate to keep hold of the player for Tuesday's
Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea after disputing the thrust of FIFA's
Moyes' view was that the regulations did not make it clear whether players
should be released 14 days ahead of the start of the competition, or 14 days
ahead of a specific country's first match.
The tournament starts in Ghana on January 20, but South Africa's first match
is not until January 23 against Angola.
Pienaar was expected to fly to Pretoria on Sunday, but trained with Everton at
their Finch Farm complex on Monday.
But by mid-afternoon, South Africa had formally asked FIFA to intervene, and
the Toffees were contacted by the world's governing body and told their
interpretation of the rule was wrong and that Pienaar should be released
Now their stance has been vindicated, the South Africans have called for
punitive action against the Merseysiders.
'For the South African Football Association, our intention is not to punish
the player, because the player is not to be blamed in this particular
instance,' a spokesman said.
'We've played the game by the rules, so FIFA will have to sanction the
Moyes' stance was almost certainly prompted by an annoyance with South African
intransigence on the subject, particularly as Nigeria have given Everton
permission to use Ayegbeni Yakubu and Joseph Yobo at Stamford Bridge before
releasing them the following day to join their country's training camp in
Privately, Everton feel South Africa could easily have followed suit, which
prompted a phone conversation between Moyes and South Africa manager Carlos
The decision to stop Pienaar flying home seemed little more than an open show
of defiance by Everton, and Moyes.
But once FIFA became involved, it was clear they considered the midfielder had
to be released 14 days before the opening day of the tournament - as per their
Pienaar trained on Monday, with Everton leaving for their London hotel in late
By then, Moyes knew that the on-loan Borussia Dortmund player would not be
available at Stamford Bridge.
Moyes said: 'The rules, in my view, do not stipulate exactly whether it is 14
days before the tournament or 14 days before South Africa's first game. We have
taken the latter view.
'We pay his wages, we pay him well and he is an employee of Everton and 14
days is more than enough time to prepare for the African Cup of Nations - which
comes in the middle of our season.
'From my point of view as Everton manager, I fought tooth and nail for him. I
was not going to let it go without a fight.'