Leeds have won their latest club-versus-country battle with South Africa over Lucas Radebe – but have walked straight into a bitter broadside from the furious Africans.
Centre-back Radebe has been consistently involved in a frustrating tug of war between Leeds and South Africa regarding his services since he first joined the club in 1994.
The latest wrangle forced FIFA to settle the dispute as the South African Football Association had written to football’s world governing body asking them to order Leeds into releasing Radebe.
Radebe, who remarkably played for South Africa in the World Cup despite a 14-month injury nightmare, was wanted for this weekend‘s African Nations Cup qualifier with the Ivory Coast in Abidjan.
Leeds argued Radebe’s long-standing knee problem, with the 33-year-old required to have ice packs on the joints to reduce swelling after Premiership games and training, prevented him from not only playing but also flying.
Leeds were immediately accused of making excuses, which resulted in SAFA writing and complaining to FIFA, and leading to Radebe expressing his disappointment at the fact he was again “in a no-win situation”.
Leeds, however, have provided FIFA with medical certificates needed to exonerate a player from international duty, much to the annoyance of South African administrative manager Stanley Tshabalala.
“If Lucas was injured we would have got a letter stating to that effect a long time ago,” said an angry Tshabalala.
“Only when FIFA wrote to Leeds asking them to release Lucas did they say he was injured.
“We should not have to go to these lengths where we are forced to write to FIFA to get them to force a club to produce a certificate.”