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Domenech defends Makelele call-up

CLAIREFONTANE, August 29 (National Team) - France coach Raymond Domenech has criticised Jose Mourinho after the Chelsea boss accused him of treating midfielder Claude Makelele like a 'slave'.

Makelele, 33, had been harbouring thoughts of international retirement after France's exploits at this summer's World Cup in Germany.

But Domenech, who is convinced the player still has what it takes to play for Les Bleus, named Makelele in the squad for their upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against Georgia and Italy.

Makelele decided to join up with the national team, prompting Mourinho to say: 'Makelele is not a football player - Makelele is a slave.'

Domenech has now replied to the comments by defending his decision to call up the experienced midfielder.

'His comments are ridiculous, this outrageous remark speaks for itself,' Domenech said. 'The fact is that Claude is with us, that he is part of the French national team and that I will ask him to come as long as I believe he is efficient.

'Chelsea don't want me to do that, but that's what I want. The law is on my side. As far as Claude is concerned he is in between and he can't say anything.'

Domenech also argued the main reason why players are getting more and more tired is not because of the national teams but because of the increasing number of matches they have to play at club level.

'One year, I remember that Chelsea played 75 matches,' added Domenech.

'The multiplication of matches does not come from the national sides but from the clubs themselves.

'We cannot force the players to come and play with their national teams but we must force the clubs to let their players go and play for their countries.

'My priority is to call up the best team of the moment, I just follow the rules.

'The day those rules don't exist anymore then we will have a clubs' World Cup.'

In August 2005, Domenech had persuaded Makelele to return to international football just one year after he announced he was hanging up his boots following France's disappointing performance at Euro 2004.

But Domenech insists things are different this time around.

'It was all a different context two years ago,' Domenech added.

'We were just coming out from a disappointing performance at Euro 2004 and psychologically, Claude did not have the energy to dedicate himself to the national team.

'This time we've just played a World Cup final. It's all different.'

Domenech also claims Makelele never officially decided to hang up his international boots after Les Bleus reached the final in Germany.

'I did not read or hear anywhere that he was retiring,' the France coach continued.

'He plays in a club, he has a player's licence, he can be called up and is facing the same sanctions as any other player if he does not show up.'