Bayern Munich is on a collision course with the French Football Federation (FFF) over plans to bring midfielder Franck Ribery before a disciplinary commission next week in connection with the France World Cup mutiny.
Ribery is going through a period of personal crisis
The German champions, already concerned about the prospect of Ribery facing criminal prosecution for his role in an under-age sex scandal, are said to be enraged by the FFF's demand that the midfielder should attend a hearing to explain his role in the French national team's training ground strike at the World Cup in South Africa this summer.
With Ribery in the midst of preparations for the coming Bundesliga season while facing a possible three-year prison sentence for having sex with an under-age prostitute, the Bayern hierarchy are unwilling to let their player leave Germany and disrupt his routine further.
Ribery has admitted paying for sex with Zahia Dehar but denies knowing the call girl was under 18 at the time.
Bayern refuse to release troubled Ribery
"This invitation or summons was not fixed in agreement with Bayern Munich," club president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement. "According to FIFA's statutes clubs are not obliged to free their players, apart from dates fixed in the international calendar. That is not the case here. For this reason Bayern Munich will not let Frank Ribery go to this hearing."
Ribery will not be released to attend the FFF hearing
Ribery is one of five France internationals ordered to appear before the commission on August 17, a day after Bayern play a German Cup tie and just three days before their Bundesliga season begins against Wolfsburg. Rummenigge, who is reportedly fuming after the FFF failed to contact Bayern about the hearing and the fact that he had to read about it in the press, is digging his heels in and has refused to consider releasing Ribery.
"The French Federation does not have the right to arbitrarily remove Franck Ribery from his commitments to Bayern," he said. "Preparations for the next Bundesliga season go before the resolution of conflicts generated in the World Cup by the French Federation."
'The ring leaders of the mutiny of Knysna' called to account
National team vice-captain Ribery was named along with team skipper Patrice Evra, Nicolas Anelka, Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulalan as the five summoned to answer questions over the training ground strike which followed Anelka being sent home for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech.
Anelka's outburst at his coach led to the player revolt
Evra is said to have led the strike, supported by Ribery and agreed to by the entire squad. Anelka has been summoned to answer for his outburst at Domenech, while Abidal will be questioned over his refusal to play in the team's final match against South Africa. Toulalan will attend as the author of the statement issued by the players announcing their intention to strike.
The strike compounded France's woeful tournament which was dogged by in-fighting and feuds off the pitch and lackluster, disjointed displays on it. The team was subsequently eliminated in the first round without a win and returned home in shame after the mutiny became the biggest scandal at the tournament.
Domenech's successor, Laurent Blanc, has left out all the members of the World Cup squad from his squad to face Norway in a friendly in Oslo on August 11 in line with the FFF's ruling of a one-game suspension for all those involved. It will be his first game in charge.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Nancy Isenson