When Cisse broke his leg right before the World Cup started, Rafa Benitez went on record to say that Liverpool had lost out on a lot of money because they planned to sell Cisse and now would have to pay his medical bills as well. Rafa was looking for compensation, but the real issue here is not Cisse, or Owen’s wages (a massive 115,000 pounds per week that will be paid by the English FA for the next 9 months).
The real question is – how do you deal with player injuries in a setup that is run based on financial analysis?
The downside of football’s popularity is that a football club is run like a money-making machine first, and a sports team second. Anyone who saw Rafa’s interview or Shepherd’s ranting would have immediately cursed them for being so callous – your best striker (with due respect to Crouchie and Fowler, Cisse was the best striker Liverpool had) gets injured and the first thing you can think about is:
“Shit – now we have to pay his medical bills.”
When money is mentioned in football people like to point to Real Madrid and Chelsea as prime examples of what happens when money comes calling. The sad part is that those clubs are just the tip of the iceberg – and with Chelsea’s billions they actually would not have qualms about paying a player’s wages when he’s injured. But the rest of the clubs, like Charleloi in Belgium and Liverpool, Newcastle United and Manchester United (Rooney) in England – clubs that are considered successful based on their financial performance as much as their acheivements on the pitch – are always going to be more interested in protecting their rear-ends
Shepherd’s not-so-eloquent analogy – “when you lend something to someone and they return it broken you expect to be paid for fixing it” – is unfair and short-sighted. Both Cisse and Owen got injured without heavy physical contact, and to be fair both injuries could have happened while playing for their respective clubs. What then?
Who should bear financial responsibility if a player gets injured on international duty? Really, unless the manager throws your player onto a floorbed of nails, it’s not the country’s problem. It is as much in England’s interest as in Manchester United’s that Rooney stays fit, and in that case United’s caution is justified (seeing that Rooney has just returned from injury).
But Cisse and Owen were both cleared to play by their clubs. Why should Liverpool and Newcastle United receive compensation? Newcastle are lucky that the English FA insures all players on international duty – this way atleast they get someone else to pay Owen’s wages (lucky bastards). But the medical fees? Freddy, have some heart, please.