MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo said that if he were a president of a club, he would push the players towards the national team considering that clubs are now receiving a compensation sum of over €6,000 per player per match while playing for the national team in international matches which would mean an income of even up to €300,000 for a club at the end of a qualifying campaign.
Speaking during a meeting of the Council, Darmanin Demajo stressed it was not in his intention to escalate matters following Valletta FC’s decision not to allow their national team players to attend training with the national team on two days before the friendly match against Albania.
Darmanin Demajo explained that when he was appointed president, right from the start, he wanted to avoid the constant tug-of-war between the clubs and the national team. He said the association soon reached an agreement with clubs and with minor exceptions, this worked. The programme was reviewed every six months.
The MFA President said that after the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the association received an email from Valletta FC stating that their players would not be available for training with the national team since only a friendly match was scheduled in November. He stressed that an email was not the right way to communicate their decision as they could have easily called by phone. At the time, technical director Robert Gatt referred them to the agreement which was reached in June and that the programme had to continue.
Although recently, players were training only on Mondays and Tuesdays with the national team, after the Faroe Islands friendly game in November, the association decided to give more space to clubs’ requirements and national team squads are now called just a few days before an inernational fixtures.
The association also agreed to change fixtures before an international match in order to accommodate clubs even further by giving them more time to rest.
However on Thursday February 27, the MFA received an email from Valletta FC saying that according to instructions by Valletta coach Andre Paus, Valletta FC national team and Under-21 national team players would only be available for training on Saturday. Valletta FC team-manager Gerard Ellul said that although he was aware of the commitment and the agreement clubs had with the association, players would only be available on Saturday. He said that together with Valletta president Victor Sciriha and vice-president Paul Spiteri, they tried to convince coach Andre Paus but their hands were tied.
Norman Darmanin Demajo said that he fully agreed with the decision to drop Valletta players from the national squad citing a technical decision. He stressed that failing to attend training and not being selected for a game amounted to a technical decision.
“For us, this was the only reasonable decision. The only decision we could take.”
The MFA President said he was totally against those who argue that a player who refuses to play for the national team should be disciplined. He said that playing for the national team was a matter of pride and players were free to choose not to play for the national team.
Darmanin Demajo said that now clubs have an added incentive in encouraging players to play for the national team as they are receiving over €6,000 per player for each appearance with the national team.