Anelka, Evra, Ribery: just desserts or light bites?

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An 18-game international ban for Anelka, a five-match exclusion for Evra and taps on the wrist for Ribery and Toulalan. Have we heard the last of this French farce? Probably not; they can appeal …

Fair play to Patrice Evra, Jérémy Toulalan and Eric Abidal. Of the infamous five French World Cup rebels summoned to a disciplinary hearing in Paris today, they did at least deem the occasion worthy of their presence.

Nicolas Anelka was nowhere to be seen, and nor was Franck Ribery. In Ribery’s defence, his club Bayern Munich made it clear they did not wish him to turn up – a scandalous position to take – and he potentially, of course, has grander tribunals for which to prepare (and where his attendance would not be optional).

Why Anelka was not there I simply do not know. But I am delighted that since the French Football Federation apparently had no financial sanctions at its disposal, he was handed an impressive 18-match international ban. Maybe he’ll think twice before unleashing another foul-mouthed tirade in the direction of his manager, club or country, in future.

Evra got off with a five-match ban, Ribery three matches and Toulalan – who, believe it or not, instructed his agent to write Raymond Domenech’s humiliating statement to read to the media after the Mutiny of Knysna – a single game. Eric Abidal got away altogether with having refused to play in the final match, presumably having persuaded the disciplinary commission that he was not acting petulantly but in no fit state of mind to turn out.

I couldn’t care less whether, as the first French report I have seen suggests, the extent of the ban means the end of 31-year-old Anelka’s international career. For that matter, I don’t really suppose Anelka is much bothered either.

Like the rest, he will go on pocketing his obscene pay packet and quickly forget the shame he brought on his country and himself.

For the record, I believe only Anelka has received anything appropriate adequate punishment. As I have already said here and at When Saturday Comes, gigantic fines would have been more fitting and the money could have gone to kids in the banlieues.

As it is, it will take a long time for any of these arrogant m(b?)illionaires to redeem themselves and earn the respect once more of young football fans.

Colin Randall

14 thoughts on “Anelka, Evra, Ribery: just desserts or light bites?”

  1. Strat:
    So we simply disagree on whether they had any right to do what they did? A respectable difference of opinion rather than a question of arrogance on either side.

    The “we’re on strike, not banned’ comments of Anelka and Evra show

    1) they have senses of humour

    2) the contrition expressed by French squad members since the mutiny may be of questionable sincerity

    The money they earn would not be such a bone of contention were it not for the bleatings of their apologists that they were standing up nobly for a downtrodden colleague.

    No, I do not think the way too many professional footballers behave towards their public is very endearing. Even the way some of them play – diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents booked etc – is contemptible.

    The chairman of Brest appears to agree on a bit of that: he’s banned his players from listening to earphones when in public and identifiably on club business. Maybe you’d say he’s interfering with their republican right even if deliberately intended to lock themselves into their bubbles out of reach of the plebs.

    But if you fancy coming back to do the Chelsea “Who Are You?” questionnaire, ahead of our next walloping by you (I assume Chelsea support here), you’d be v welcome. We can re-engage battle! Only I’d need to hear from you (the email address used to post here doesn’t seem to exist; mine appears up at the top left of the home page).

  2. “arrogance (the latter trait attributed by Strat, first comment, to anyone caught being strongly critical of the super-rich behaving badly)”
    Ah those damn superrich, I admire your RobinHoodness too- rob them of cash and gice it to the kids…

    “But have you got a real point to make?”
    Have you? If sentence “I couldn’t care less whether, as the first French report I have seen suggests, the extent of the ban means the end of 31-year-old Anelka’s international career.” is one of your points, then my point is that I couldn’t care less about it.

    And a thing you might want to consider, but I am guess your hatred for those “damn obscenely rich” footballers won’t let you. They got where they are for being hard-working professionals, consider what it means when all of them unanimously make a decision to stand up to Domenech (also undoubtedly a professional footballer once, but as a manager not so much, unless basing your decisions on astrology is a sign of mastering that job)

  3. Anyone would think we were talking about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or undernourished, slavedriven urchins rising nobly against a wicked master who has forced one of their number up a chimney.
    The men chosen to wear the colours of France in South Africa are paid vast amounts of money at club level, to which would – in other circumstances – have been added further substantial rewards from the players’ World Cup sponsorship pool. At the qualifying stage, in the pre-tournament friendlies and in South Africa itself, they played like Sunday league no-hopers. In South Africa, they were put up in palatial accommodation and handed a relatively easy group. Once there, they proceeded to alienate excited fans in the host country with their surly, uncommunicative and distant arrogance (the latter trait attributed by Strat, first comment, to anyone caught being strongly critical of the super-rich behaving badly). On the field, they were – overall – abysmal. Within hearing of all his teammates, one of these players reacts to half time criticism with the sort of abuse that would make an employee in comparable circumstances liable to severe disciplinary retribution, even instant dismissal. Heat of the moment? That is mitigation, not a defence. Yet instead of receiving harsh but essentially fair punishment on the spot (exclusion from the squad), he is given the opportunity to apologise. This he declines, aggravating his original misconduct. It makes not a jot of difference that the boss at whom the odious insult was directed is, in the view of many, wholly inept. The choice of manager is not one for the players to make. Their job is to follow his instructions and treat him with respect. Remembering that they are meant to be ambassadors for their country, their immediate job at that stage of the tournament, with early elimination probable unless they produce an exceptional performance, is to train hard and make the best fist possible of it. Instead, they have a little huddle and decide not to train at all but to cobble together, with professional help, a shabby statement of self-justification, retreat beneath baseball caps and behind earphones to the team bus and leave their boss to read out their words of rebellion to the media. France is at once assured of that early exit and the lingering disgust of most people looking on. A shocking example is set for the millions of children who look up – looked up, I hope, being the appropriate tense – to these men blessed with rare sporting gifts.
    And that is the behaviour of people acting with admirable solidarity? I am relieved to say that I have not heard a single person in France describe the players’ conduct as admirable. Shameful, suicidal, stupid (the word chosen by Eric Roy on these pages), beyond belief … those are the words and phrases on most people’s lips.
    My views on corporate football are well known. I do frequently find the atittude of top footballers and their clubs objectionable. But I recognise talent and, where it happens (Quinn. Drogba and, yes, even Malouda with his sincere if conscience-salving Haitian exploits) humility and humanitarian endeavour.
    But this is not an attack on corporate football so much as the reaction of a football supporter with strong French connections, memories of exhilarating past performance by les Bleus and bitter disappointment at the manner in which the quad of 2010 chose to wear the maillot bleu.

    * the leak is really a side issue. Governments often react to leaks by focusing only on finding the whistleblower, even when the disclosure reveals serious wrongdoing and therefore performs a public service. I do think whoever told L’Equipe of Anelka’s rant was wholly wrong, though, and that the matter should have remained within the dressing room and been dealt with privately. It is no great surprise that it was not, and if Domenech is ever proved – as opposed to being suspected by contributors to Salut! Sunderland – to have been the mole, he deserves severe punishment from the FFF. I have seen no such proof. But the federation has, in any case, reserved its position on his role in the entire debacle so who knows? Whoever did it behaved dishonourably, in the specific circumstances, but that doesn’t begin to exonerate the players in my eyes.

  4. This is precisely what I believe as well Bill. It was clearl from the comments which followed the so called mutiny that they players had a clear idea who was behind the press leak. It doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines to see where their fingers were pointing (at least privately). Had it not been Domenech then their response, in my view would not have been to ‘go on strike,’ but to deal with the perpetrator in house in some other manner. They wouldn’t have taken ‘industrial action,’ had it been a fellow player. The strike was used as a weapon against the person they knew in their heart of hearts was responsible. That was Domenech. Regardless of whether you might consider the strike action unwise, you have to consider the selection of the response as a clue to who the players were accusing. They wouldn’t have chosen that weapon had it been a fellow player. They simply knew that it was the coach and therefore refused to train or play at the time because that was really the only option they had. I have no special fondness for Anelka but he isn’t the real guilty party in my mind.

  5. This has been rehashed on this site more than once. I shall simply repeat what I’ve said all along. Anelka was pushed beyond endurance by Domenech’s ineptitude and spoke his mind perhaps a little too forcefully. The situation could have ended right there, had it not been for the leak (and I remain convinced that it lies at Domenech’s door). In my opinion the rest of the team showed quite admirable solidarity with Anelka. I hope they do appeal.

  6. I have agreed that the leak was reprehensible, Jeremy, but have seen no evidence that Domenech was the mole. But what preceded it (player abusing his boss) was punishable and what followed (the mutiny) was disgraceful. Every member of the squad shares some responsibility.

  7. The point here is about who the real villain(s) of the peace really were. The issue is not about Anelka’s tirade, or even about how lamentable Domenech was (and he really was), but about the leak to the press which is what fueled everything that followed. Many of the players involved in this were clearly of the mind that Domenech had gabbed to the press about Anelka’s comments when the general view was that what happens in the dressing room should stay there. They were less offended by Domenech’s incompetence than what they saw as Domenech’s treachery to the squad. What followed was a show of typical French unity when they saw a team mate being treated unfairly. This scenario doesn’t tell us anything about Domenech’s motivation to talk to the press about Anelka. There are issues between managers and players all the time; we just don’t get to hear about it in most cases. I’m just not sure that all the guilty were punished and wonder if the real culprit got of scot free.

  8. It is incredible the higher ground the French FA are adopting on this issue. They are hypocritical in the extreme putting on this moral masquerade when they were guilty of cheating and moral turpitude in their dealings with the world renowned cheat Tiery Henry’s sly and deceitful handball against Ireland. Their reputation is shot,vile creatures..

  9. How can they be in the right? Even the players , or those who have spoken, admit they acted like idiots. It doesn’t matter how ineffectual Domenech was; he was the boss and the time to question his managership was afterwards, not during, the World Cup[. And it wasn;t even their role to do so anyway. I felt the same with Keane vs McCarthy and didn’t change my view even when Keano rightly acclaimed for leading us to the Premier.

  10. Look, if you don’t think something is right you must speak up and say so. Anelka did and got repremanded for it by being sent home. Clearly the rest of the French squad thought this was out of order, as Anelka was obviously the shop steward type person in this and went on strike. Anelka said he would never play for France again so how will this ban affect him? As for the rest of the players, if they still think they were in the right, they should stand up and be counted.

  11. They are arrogant sure, as all sportstars are (mb it is a psychological requirement to become one). For your arrogance there is no such explanaition though…

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