Domenech condemns France players

EX-FRANCE coach Raymond Domenech has branded members of the national team “foolhardy brats” after speaking out for the first time about the World Cup debacle.

Domenech admitted he made mistakes in South Africa last summer, but insisted he has been unfairly blamed for the players refusing to train as his authority crumbled midway through the tournament.

The coach, who stood down as planned following the tournament, has taken the blame for the incident but is now coming out fighting with a forthright interview due to be published in full in today’s L’Express.

“Everyone is talking instead of me,” he said. “I want to restore the truth. I’m not the moron that people are describing me as.

“Let’s be clear: I got it wrong, I mustn’t have chosen the right players nor found the words that were needed.’’

It was during the 2-0 defeat to Mexico in France’s second game of the tournament that Anelka confronted Domenech, ultimately leading to his dismissal from the team. The players protested by refusing to train the following day with the situation escalating further when captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne became embroiled in a furious row.

The players then returned to the team bus for a meeting and closed the curtains. Describing the day, and his attempts to talk his players around, Domenech said: “It was more than an hour that we had been there.

“It was really necessary that someone take responsibility and stop that charade. All the cameras were focused on the bus, hundreds of kids were waiting on the sidelines. We were the laughing stock of the world.”

Following the tournament, Evra, Franck Ribery, Jeremy Toulalan and Eric Abidal took the bulk of the blame — and suspensions — for their role in the incident, but Domenech said all the players acted together.

“If there were any leaders, I did not see them. Every time I went up into the bus, there was no one,” he said. “At this point, I told myself that they went crazy and they don’t realise. Now I know I was wrong: they knew very well what they were doing.

“They even closed the curtains of the bus to hide themselves from cameras. With hindsight, I see them mainly as a bunch of foolhardy brats.”

Domenech, whose time in charge was filled with moments of eccentricity, revealed he has received all manner of offers outside football since the summer, but he has so far turned them all down. “Above all, I do not want controversy. I have had offers for the theatre, for the cinema ... Nothing on TV, no. Honestly, how can we imagine me in a reality television show?” he said. “I still need to brush aside certain memories before being able to start a new adventure. It’s like love: you have to have forgotten a woman to be able to love another.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox