Good riddance


It used to be early exits of England, after embarrassing outbreaks of hooliganism, that people most wanted to happen at the major international football events.

Now, it’s the turn of the French. And that’s just how the French themselves see it.

The cartoon from today’s L’Equipe, the big sports daily, echoes my own comment here yesterday, after the 2-1 defeat to South Africa confirmed France’s elimination. Good riddance, cry the South Africans bidding their unfond farewell to the overpaid, overblown and ultimately hopeless French entourage.

The captain Patrice Evra, excluded by the tactically challenged Raymond Domenech from the final game of Group A, says sorry to the French people and promises to tell the unadorned truth within days. Thierry Henry calls the Elysee to demand, and be granted, an audience with the president (I have seen reports that Sarko summoned Henry, but the palace insists the player called to seek the audience).

It is difficult to think of anything they or the others could say to remove the thought that the French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot, having reportedly reduced some of the squad to quivering wrecks as she lectured them on their national duty of the eve of the game, was guilty of understatement when she accused them of causing a “moral disaster”.

The refusal to train two days before a decisive game, in which France again underperformed, was unpardonable unless Henry and Evra can somehow conjure some explosive new evidence (such as “we uncovered a plot by Domenech to fire Exocets at us if we did train”).

The immediate remedies?

Domenech will be gone soon enough and should be followed by the oafs of the French Football federation who played their own parts in the farce.

Whoever leaked Anelka’s alleged remark – Va te faire ecnouler, sale fils de pute! , or gan’n f*** yersel, yer dirty son of a whore, though M Anelka, a gentle man according to friends, disputes the precise wording – should be boiled in oil. And every member of the playing squad should go back to their millionaire club roles having been politely informed that they will never play for France again.

Colin Randall

11 thoughts on “Good riddance”

  1. I was going to ask who you thought the “mole” might have been Bill. I suspect that it was Domenech myself. He’s a sly and devious little man. All will come out in time I’ve no doubt.

    If you can get the lads behind the goal going with that chant Bill, there’ll be cognacs on me!

  2. I think it was a very human reaction in a situation that had been coming to the boil for quite some time and finally erupted like a volcano. And I don’t see why Anelka should have been expected to apologize for speaking his mind simply because someone — and, as I’ve said, I believe it may well have been Domenech himself — leaked his outburst.
    But it’s all academic now. Henry’s had his meeting with Sarkozy (I like to think that once they were behind closed doors they had a couple of cognacs and shared a chuckle over all the fuss) and Domenech is going.
    I think, Jeremy, that for best effect, the chant should be: “Les b√Ętards noirs et blancs de Domenech!”

  3. Mmnnn………. interesting point about TH’s reputation being tarnished Salut. I’ve always admired the man for not only the way that he played the game but as a person about whom until recently there has been very little negative press. The “handball incident” which sunk Irish qualification has well and truly backfired on the French. They must doubly wish that it had never happened, having been hit with a double whammy in S. Africa.

    When a team feels that the coach is just not up to the job and is the source of a national disgrace etc what actions should they resort to? What is permissable?

    Maybe their actions are unjustifiable in refusing to train and threatening strike action. Domenech was going at the end of the tournament so it’s difficult to know what has been achieved; if anything other than registering their protest in the clearest manner possible (short of giving Raymond the same treatment as Louis XVI).

    Laurent Blanc must be getting measured up for incontinence pants even as we speak. Mind you, I would have laughed, had this happened to him.

  4. Good, thoughtful posts seeking to justify the French football strike but, in my honest opinion, wrong.
    It doesn’t matter any more that Domenech was a liability than that Keane may have had a point in 2002. There can be only one boss between manager and players and in these two situations, the bosses were Domenech and McCarthy.
    Anelka’s comment did not warrant exclusion until some idiot or rat leaked it, but it did warrant a full apology. He had the chance to make one after it DID become public and rejected it.
    The French players who then refused to train were absolutely nowhere near the high moral ground. They let down themselves, their country, their sport and their youthful admirers in an appalling manner. If the sports minister is right, even the gesture of taking no bonuses from the commercial pool was made only after she told them to. That’s not saying they wouldn’t have been shamefaced enough to volunteer anyway. One or two have been very sheepish.
    But even historically rebellious France is aghast at their actions and rightly so in my view.
    I do have to agree with those who wondered whether, on a day when large parts of the country were disrupted by strikes, the president didn;t have better things to do that meet a millionaire apologist for the team’s actions, indeed one who went to the World Cup with his deservedly glorious reputation as a footballer already severely tarnished.

  5. I like that idea btw Pete.

    I can hear the chants of “Raymond Domenech’s black and white bastards!” even as I type.

  6. I have to agree with Bill, because there are a lot of people who seem to be barking up the wrong tree with these issues. What seemed to cause the offence to the players was less to do with Anelka’s outburst and more to do with the sense of betrayal amongst their ranks. I suspect that Anelka’s outburst, although outrageous, is probably not uncommon. We just don’t get to hear about it usually. We are constantly told that there is unity in the England camp. What a load of codswallop! The general public have been up in arms about the team, but there isn’t any disagreement. They are fooling nobody.

    Domenech has had the ear of someone in high places, otherwise he would never have been given the job in the first place, or sacked years ago. He’s completely inept and everyone knew it. His selection was poor, he couldn’t coach and nobody either liked him or had any respect for him. The French have done in typically French fashion what they have always done. They have rebelled. Those players knew that they had precious little hope of achieving anything in this tournament and when it came to pass that they had failed to score in the first two games despite the talent at their disposal then something had to give.

    The majority of the players involved in this will be too old when the next tournament comes around, and have made a stand collectively against something that they thought was wrong. It will be interesting to see what happens when Thierry gets his audience with Sarkozy.

  7. I know there’s widespread French outrage — you should have seen the long e-mail, in both languages, that Lesley’s cousin Philippe sent her last night.

    But at least the team, for good or ill, proved themselves to be a team — rather than a disparate group of self-interested individuals who play together for expedient reasons — after Anelka’s outburst, which I imagine was the result of weeks and weeks of frustration at Domenech’s ineptitude.

    As I said yesterday, I wished France had beaten South Africa and gone to do at least reasonably well. All would very quickly have been forgiven. There’s nothing changes the public and political mind quicker than national success.

  8. I admire your solidarity with the players, Bill, and even your strong belief in their republican rights to strike, dump cow dung on the town hall steps and blockade motorways and ports.

    However, I continue to feel they behaved – and for once Domenech was right – with unbelievable stupidity and that the damage they inflicted on their country’s reputation, and the dreams of millions of adoring children, is immense. It may be different elsewhere but in my own small part of France I sense deep outrage at the way they have conducted themselves (even if nearly the whole, misshapen team picked by Domenech yesterday at least tried to sing La Marsellaise beforehand, though you do wonder what words if any Ribery is uttering when the cameras reach his face).

  9. The oil-boiling and mass-firing of the team are unlikely to happen, though the former probably should. I suspect it was Domenech himself. Bachelot didn’t help one bit with her outburst.

    I’m looking forward to hearing the unadorned truth. And I still think there’s something admirable in the team’s show of solidarity with Anelka.

    But, yes, it was something of a farce and the French federation should be held accountable for its role in setting the whole thing up.

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