THE nation’s supply of asterisks has been seriously depleted in the last 48 hours as reports have differed about the precise content of the inflammatory remark made by France’s Lassana Diarra to Ireland’s Keith Andrews after the final whistle blew in Croke Park on Saturday night.
Suggestions have ranged from “Irish p***k” to “Irish b*****d” with the additional “F**k you, you’re out” thrown in for good measure.
However, informed sources have now told the Irish Examiner that the Real Madrid man actually called the Blackburn Rovers player an “Irish c**t”. The slur provoked an angry response from Andrews while his fellow Dubliner Richard Dunne also became involved in the afters, literally going tete-a-tete with the Frenchman.
At his post-match press conference, Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said that a French player had “insulted the Irish people” but, at the time, he refused to identify the culprit saying, “My habit is to name the sin but not the sinner.”
The following day, Andrews elaborated on the circumstances of the row, although he declined to reveal exactly what had been said. “There was a bit of niggle in the game, anyway, but that’s just football and it happens,” said the Irish midfielder. “When the final whistle went, I was hunkered down a little. I saw him walking towards me and I thought he was going to shake my hand. He made a remark – a disrespectful comment – and, to be fair, I lost my head a little.
“All our lads are aware of it,” he added, “so we’ll see what happens on Wednesday.”
However, following Irish training at Malahide yesterday, Marco Tardelli was clearly anxious not to add further fuel to the fire.
“Some players told me that Diarra said something against the Irish people,” said the assistant manager, “but for me, it finished on the pitch. There is no war. It’s a match.”
Declining to answer a follow-up question on the matter, the Italian said: “I want to stop this situation.”
Meanwhile, at the French training base of Clairefontaine outside Paris, Lassana Diarra has denied the claims of the Irish camp.
“The Irish players had tried to get at us in the newspapers, looking for stories, saying ‘The French said this and they said that’, but why would I start trashing the Irish people?”
“Andrews walked on my ankle during the second half,” he said.
“If he asks for trouble, we meet again on Wednesday. The Irishmen have been frustrated, they lost 1-0 and they were looking for trouble.”
‘See you next Tuesday’ is the familiar prim euphemism for the ‘c’ word. But, as Ireland get set to renew hostilities with the French, it sounds like “see you next Wednesday” has become the more appropriate phrase.
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