By Chris Wright
The downward spiral that is Hatem Ben Arfa’s career trajectory has taken another twist this morning with the French winger announcing that he may be finished with football entirely after seeing his OGC Nice contract pulped before he could play a single game for the Ligue 1 side.
The rumours in France had been that Ben Arfa was set to retire from the game at the age of 27 after being refused international clearance to play for Nice after joining from Newcastle at the start of the month.
Ben Arfa signed an 18-month deal with Nice only for FIFA to prohibit the winger from playing for the rest of the current season due to him having already made competitive appearances for two other teams (Newcastle and Hull) in 2014/15.
Nice contested the ruling on the grounds that Ben Arfa only played once for Newcastle’s reserve string, but FIFA upheld their call as their regulations class U21 developmental leagues (i.e, the reserves) as “competitive fixtures”.
As such, Ben Arfa held a press conference today to tell the world of his woes, vowing that he’d be willing to relocate to the North Pole if it would mean he could find himself some regular football.
“Today I’m finished with Nice, but maybe that won’t be forever,” he grumbled.
“I want to thank everyone here – it’s a real regret that I can’t continue, but sometimes you have to accept it and move on.
“Today I’ll try to be positive and see what I can do. On Monday I was on the floor but coming in to training today has made me feel better.
“Now I just have to do the best I can for the future. The solution may be to go abroad.
“Would I go to Russia? I’m ready to go to the North Pole just to play football again. But for now I can’t really speculate – I just have to think.
“I won’t say I’m sick of French football, because there are good people here – I’m just disappointed and sad.”
As L’Equipe have already pointed out, Ben Arfa can still play in the US, Brazil, Argentina, China, Russia and Qatar (as well as approximately 80 other less salubrious football leagues) under FIFA’s ruling, so we can’t help but feeling he’s being a tad dramatic – though it’s what we’ve come to expect from the man.
Maybe if he nipped this “woe is me” rubbish in the bud a few years ago and actually knuckled down, he wouldn’t be in this mess?
Now there’s a thought.