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Tooth Pull Sparks Club-Country Tug-of-War

  • Goal.com , Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:30 PM
A mid-week operation on Marouane Fellaini's wisdom teeth has caused a disagreement between his club, Everton, and his national team, Belgium. After playing for Belgium in a win over Turkey this past weekend, Fellaini has pulled out Wednesday's qualifying match against Estonia to undergo oral surgery.

Everton stated that this compromise was agreed upon beforehand so that Fellaini could return to play for Everton this weekend against Wolverhampton. But the Belgian soccer federation denied knowledge of such an agreement. It has recalled Fellaini for the midweek game and stated that FIFA regulations require Fellaini to miss at least five days of club action if he misses an international match without permission. "Fellaini is called for the match with Estonia. If he decides not to come, he knows the consequences," said the Belgian federation's director general, Jean-Marie Phillips. "[Belgium coach] Mr [Dick] Advocaat has asked that the FIFA regulations strictly apply and therefore Marouane may not play this weekend with Everton.

Everton, however, insists that the Belgians had full knowledge of the pre-existing arrangement and that the attacker should be eligible to play on Saturday. "We released Marouane for both games and have complied with all our obligations," Everton spokesman Ian Ross said. "He had an understanding with the manager [Advocaat] that if he played on Saturday, he'd be released from the Wednesday game. The manager appears to have changed his mind ... This is a personal dispute between the player and the coach. Everton's not to blame and in our view there is nothing that can prevent Marouane from playing on Saturday against Wolverhampton."

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