Chelsea’s Claude Makelele has distanced himself from comments made by his club manager Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho had suggested that France coach Raymond Domenech was treating Makelele like a “slave” for his insistence that the midfielder reprsent France in their forthcoming Euro 2008 fixtures against Georgia and Italy.
Under the impression that Makelele had retired from international football after playing for France in the World Cup final, Mourinho was scathing in his description of Domenech.
“Pavel Nedved, Paul Scholes, Luis Figo have all retired from international football. With the Czechs, England and Portugal it is ok, but France? They don’t have liberty,” the Chelsea manager said.
“It is unbelievable. Makelele is not a footballer, he is a slave.”
Mourinho, Makelele responded, was “going a little bit too far as his words are slightly different when he talks to me.
“It’s a duty to wear the colours of your country. My name is on the squad list and I have to go there,” said the Kinshasa-born midfielder who has won 50 caps for the French international team.
“Playing for France means a lot to me. I’m a professional. I’m doing my job and even if my club don’t agree with it, I’m going to accept this call-up.
“I can understand Mourinho’s disappointment. It was agreed I was to stop playing for France after the World Cup. But I’ve talked to Domenech and he believes I can still be useful to the team.
“It’s a rather tricky situation. I’ll have to play more games and I’ll end up more tired,” said the 33-year-old Makelele.
Meanwhile, FIFA stressed that any player is allowed to retire from international football.
“The general situation is that any player is free to decide that he is not playing for his national team,” said Andreas Herren, a spokesman for world football’s governing body.
“There is no FIFA rule to prevent any player stopping his international career, that’s up to him,” he told AFP.
“The one thing that has to be considered is that the intention to leave a national team or put an end to an international career needs to be communicated prior to a specific summons.”
Domenech had said Makelele’s call-up should not be questioned.
“You don’t come to play for France if you’re not sure about it. You come to play if you want to, and if the coach picks you,” said Domenech.
“To accuse us as they (Chelsea) have done, is to put a question mark over the manner of selecting international squads which have priority and the coach has the right for international matches to select players of that nationality to come and play.”