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Is It Time to Ban Players Who Fake International Pull Outs?

As the new international campaign looms is it time to punish those who ‘fake’ their way out of playing for their country?

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Fabio Capello Manager England 2009/10 England V Mexico (3-1) 24/05/09 International Friendly Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

No one can deny that the timing of the up coming friendly with Hungary is absurd and that the importance of playing such a match seems unknown to anyone outside the FA who are looking to boost their coffers with a Wembley run out, but that being said is it not time to punish those who pull out of international matches with ‘fake’ injuries?

Fabio Capello has had to deal with an unprecedented level of players deciding that they are unfit for duty but we all know that these self same players will mysteriously be fighting fit just a few days later when the new Premier League season kicks in.

Ben Foster is the latest player to shirk his responsibility to the national team and his pull out follows Darren Bent’s exit which in turn comes shortly after Michael Carrick had to deal with the embarrassment of collecting his Community Shield winners medal via an awkward hand shake from the England national team boss who could clearly be seen questioning the Man United midfielder and his supposed ‘injury’ that had ruled him out of the squad entirely.

Is it time now to institute some sort of national team ban for those who are not fit for duty but then play in their very next club match? Perhaps those who do pull out are then suspended from the next competitive national team fixture?

Lets be clear about this. Playing for your country should be the pinnacle of your footballing career and whether that is in a friendly or a World Cup match, this is equally true. It is the blatant lying that comes with the practice of avoiding a national call up that shows the most disrespect.

It happens every match and even occurs ahead of qualification matches and such an act undermines the coach and the country. The fact that a player like Ben Foster is willing to avoid action when there is clearly a big fight to win the battle to be England’s first choice keeper illustrates just how far the act of ‘faking’ has come.

One could almost understand when the regular ‘superstar’ players cried off from duty because in some ways they can afford to do so in meaningless friendlies as arguably they have done enough already to prove themselves but for a player who is on the fringes to pull out is frankly a farce.

There appears to be a whole new way to avoid selection and that is to state that a player is recovering from an injury and should therefore not be risked for a friendly but then that self same player will have played the weekend before the game and will also play the weekend after, miracle recovery by any chance?

Surely after such a horrendous World Cup campaign it is even more important to show ones desire to play for your country. It would be one way to give something back to the loyal fans who were so horrified by their hero’s poor showing in South Africa. It is good to see the big names who didn’t shine during the summer are almost all present and correct but clearly the issue of ‘fake’ pull outs is a regular occurrence and now would be a good time to make a stand on the issue.

Fabio Capello is known to be a hard task master and he will surely be looking unfavourably against those who have fictitious ailments and hopefully he will punish those who decide that playing for their country is beneath them. Those who believe that such behaviour is the norm across the world are totally incorrect. The issue of ‘crying off’ from playing for one’s country is far far more prevalent in England than anywhere else. All you have to do is take a look at the teams that will be representing the biggest teams in Europe today, France aside for obvious reasons, and you will see a wealth of talented individuals who feel honoured to play for their countries.

Any ban would be fairly easy to enforce and would only cover international matches so would in no way affect the club’s involved, therefore making it an issue for the player to deal with. Clearly such a ban would have to be dealt with on a case by case basis but surely any player who is supposedly ‘unfit’ for action but managed to play in a match on the weekend before AND the weekend after the match in question has faked their pull out. Simply then ban that player from selection for the next meaningful competitive fixture.

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