You may remember back a little under a month ago, when Franck Ribery announced his retirement from the France national team. Ribery's reasons were as sound as these international retirements general are. He wanted to spend more time with his family and focus his few remaining professional years focus on FC Bayern. That sounds pretty reasonable, right?
Well, it sure doesn't sound reasonable to UEFA President Michel Platini. In a wide-ranging interview with Bild, Platini said some of the most ludicrous things to come out of his mouth.
First, he was asked his opinion of Philipp Lahm's retirement from the Germany national team.
"I have zero understanding of this. It is not the decision of the players, whether they come to the national team. This is the decision of the coach. If there is disagreement between Lahm and Löw, the Germany coach will no longer call on him, that's one thing. But, basically, it is not Lahm's decision, it's Löw's."
Then, he was asked about Ribery's retirement from France.
"It's a very different situation. Franck Ribery cannot simply decide whether or not he plays for France. If Didier Deschamps invites him, he must come to the national team. This is defined in the Fifa statutes. If he does not come, he will be suspended for three games with Bayern Munich. I don't understand him anyway. He is French, the European Championship in 2016 will take place in France!"
So, according to Mr. Platini, even though Ribery has retired from France, if they were to name him to a squad, he has to play? And, if he refuses to go --- since, you know, he's announced his retirement from the team --- then he would be suspended for three matches with Bayern?
Hopefully, Platini is incorrect here, because if this is a legitimate rule from FIFA, then that rule must be changed.
I love international football. However, if a player wants to retire from his national team, there is absolutely no question that said player should be allowed to unequivocally step away. Forcing a player to continue their international career when they do not want to do it any long would be an incredibly dumb thing to do. Let's not do that.