Everton were desperate to hold onto the South African for their Carling Cup semifinal, first leg, with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, with their midfield already missing influential playmaker Mikel Arteta (suspended) and Leon Osman (broken toe).
While The Toffees claimed that their interpretation of FIFA’s so-called “14-Day” rule is that clubs must release their players for international tournaments 14-days before their first match of the competition, FIFA confirmed to snl24.com/kickoff that this was not the case.
“No, the rules state that clubs must release players 14-days prior to the opening match of the tournament, not the specific national association’s opening match,” a spokesman said. “In this case the right lies with the South African Football Association and Steven Pienaar should be released by Everton.”
Indeed, under the FIFA statute relating to the RELEASE OF PLAYERS FOR ASSOCIATION TEAMS, article 1, point 4c, it says: “For the final competition of an international tournament: 14 days before the first match in the competition.”
With the opening match of the tournament on January 20 between Ghana and Morocco, it means Pienaar should have pitched-up for duty on January 6. South Africa’s first match is on January 23 against Angola in Tamale.