Last night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., Oguchi "Gooch" Onyewu tore the patella tendon on his left knee during the 2 x 2 draw with Costa Rica. He should be sidelined between 3 and 4 months. It was the second event of bad news for the US Team in as many days.
But the response of AC Milan Vice President, Adriano Galliani, was quite intriguing:
"Sono molto arrabbiato perché le Nazionali ancora una volta ci prendono i giocatori e noi dobbiamo rimetterci con gli infortuni - spiega Adriano Galliani -. Questo è un problema da risolvere. Noi come Milan pretendiamo un indennizzo dalla Federazione americana. Non possiamo stipendiare per sei mesi un calciatore che non può giocare".
"I am very angry because once again, national teams take players and we have to deal with the injuries. This is a problem that needs to be resolved. We as Milan are going to make a claim for an indemnity from the American Soccer Federation. We can't pay a player for six months if he can't play."Italian source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 15 October 2009.
Paid for Not Playing?
Onyewu has only appeared in one official game for AC Milan this season out of ten possible appearances. It was against FC Zurich in the UEFA Champions League, and was for about 30 minutes after an injury to Alessandro Nesta. So one could make the argument that Milan have been paying him for not playing.
Mister Galliani has been with Milan for over 20 years. This is the first time that I can recall a statement such as this. There have been rumors that Silvio Berlusconi wants to sell the team. After their large financial windfall due to the sale of Ricardo Kaka' last year, Milan did not spend much on the transfer market. And now they want money from the American FA?
Perhaps this strange statement is a precursor of more changes to come at AC Milan.
But should a club be able to ask for damages? What if Onyewu fell down at the airport? Who would Galliani want to sue then? :-)
Who Treats the Injured Player and Where?
This situation also raises other issues. For example, who treats the injured player? Doctors hired by US Soccer or those associated with AC Milan (known for their fabled Milan Lab)? If I recall properly, when Christian Abbiati, Rino Gattuso, and Paolo Maldini suffered knee injuries, they were treated in Antwerp, Belgium by a famous orthopedic surgeon, Professor Marc Martens.
Best wishes to Gooch for a speedy recovery, and we hope to see him on the pitch for Milan and the US National Team early next year.