PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25: Arturo Vidal of Chile challenges Andres Iniesta of Spain during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group H match between Chile and Spain at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Claudio Borghi threw five players out of the Chilean national team as punishment for breaking curfew. They'll be replaced by players from the domestic league, ahead of Chile's qualifiers with Uruguay and Paraguay.
There are some very good reasons to punish players: Drunk driving. Sleeping with the coach's daughter. Missing training. But sometimes, you have to wonder whether the coach is looking out for the best interests of his team, or simply trying to assert his power.
Claudio Borghi, coach of the Chile national football team, set a 10pm curfew for his squad. Arturo Vidal, Jean Beuasejour, Gonzalo Jara and Carlos Carmona were allowed to leave the training base to attend a christening hosted by Jorge Valdivia. The five returned to camp 45 minutes late, prompting (in my imagination) a red-faced Borghi meeting them at the gate, steam bellowing from his ears as he used a few choice Spanish curses.
The result? The players, who all started in Chile's 4-1 defeat to Argentina last month, were sent home, tucking their tails between their legs at the shame of being ousted for celebrating a religious event. Granted, I don't know the full story -- perhaps the squad is lacking discipline, perhaps these players had already been causing trouble? But on the surface, it seems a foolish decision.*
I can understand instilling discipline in your team. I can understand the need for the players to have focus. But this is patently absurd. Chile have World Cup qualifying matches against Uruguay and Paraguay coming up in the next week. To drop five players and replace them with players from the Chilean domestic league is simply shooting yourself in the foot. But hey, at least Alexis Sanchez played a few minutes for Barcelona this weekend...
*Reports are the players were drunk, which makes the punishment a bit more understandable, but still rather excessive.