France midfielder Jeremy Toulalan has insisted the whole squad should be punished for boycotting training ahead of their crucial World Cup game against South Africa.
The squad opted to strike in support of Nicolas Anelka, after the Chelsea striker was sent home from the tournament after a bust-up with coach Raymond Domenech. The disruption saw Les Bleus lose their final group game 2-1 and exit the tournament.
Reports in the French media have suggested some members of the squad, including Toulalan, had been coerced into taking part in the strike, and therefore only the ringleaders should be punished.
But the Lyon player says that was not the case and all the Les Bleus’ squad were united in their stance and so any punishment should be shared equally among the squad.
He told Journal du Dimanche: “I’m not proud of what I did but I accept responsibility. There were no ringleaders and no slaves, no good guys and no bad guys. We were all involved and we are all responsible because nobody said a word (against the boycott). Whoever says otherwise is a liar.”
Toulalan also revealed his personal heartache at the 2006 World Cup finalists’ early exit in South Africa.
“We should have talked to each other on the pitch and shown during the games the solidarity which was ours in support of Anelka.
“I’m going through a nightmare. I’m still wondering how we managed to do such things. It’s a stain on my career and it will be very difficult to wipe it off.”