Evra, Anelka & co: saints not sinners after all?

Salut! Sunderland readers produced a healthy response to my account of the French Football Federation’s individual punishments for four of the five players called before a disciplinary commission.

One, presumably Irish reader still hadn’t forgotten the Hand of Henry; someone else considered it a mark of arrogance to have a point of view at all. And two Sunderland fans in Canada – both regular contributors to these pages – described events in terms suggesting a struggle between downtrodden labour and ruthless capitalism.

My response to the notion that Patrice Evra led an admirable revolt against evil – the evil having, of course, nothing to do with Nicolas Anelka’s foul-mouthed rant at the manager Raymond Domenech, and everything to do with the details being leaked to the French media – is long. It is where it belongs, in the comments field of the original article.

But as a postscript, let me say Domenech is not out of the wood. The FFF may yet punish him, too, for his perceived part in what was a national humiliation.

He formally denied yesterday that he had been the mole. Or, rather, he denied being the man who leaked the Anelka insults to the press. If true, that would not necessarily exclude the possibility that he was an indirect source – say, if he mentioned it to an FFF official who then passed it on to L’Equipe – but no one has offered a shred of evidence to show that this was the case.

Maybe if I got out more in France, I’d come across people who share the surprising notion that the players acted admirably. Everyone I know thinks they were a disgrace, even if – like me – they originally wished them well (I have no particular dislike of any of them and, once, responded to a Man United fansite’s question by naming Evra as one of the Reds I’d love to see at SAFC)

For now, I’ll leave you with a repeat of that cartoon showing a chorus of vuvuzelas bidding “good riddance” to the departing squad – and one of the jokes that went the rounds over here immediately after Les Bleus flew home:

Three new kids at school are asked by the teacher what their fathers do. “My dad’s a fireman,” one girl replies proudly. “And mine works at the town hall,” says another child.

“And what about yours?” the teacher asks the apparently shy third pupil. “”Er, he’s a stripper and escort in a gay bar,” the boy, after much hesitation, replies.

The teacher refuses to believe him and presses the boy to tell the truth. Only when the other children have gone does he agree to do so.

“OK, ” he admits finally, lowering his voice to little more than a whisper. “He plays for the French international football team. I was just too ashamed to say so.”

Colin Randall

8 thoughts on “Evra, Anelka & co: saints not sinners after all?”

  1. Shut up? No. Long gone are the days when players worried about speaking out of turn, even if it brings slap-on-the-wrist punishment. In fact I support their right to free speech (even though it is not, of course, open to most employees). They were entitled to say they weren’t best pleased with Anelka’s guttersnipe abuse being leaked. Shifts the blame a bit, which always helps.

    Kept playing? I cannot believe the question is even posed. Buit if you must, yes.

  2. Salut. I would argue that putting Domenech in charge and sticking with him regardless is the equivalent of defecating on the national flag.

    I do wonder what alternate actions were available to the players at that moment and in those circumstances The issues were not with the fact that Anelka being sent home for his outburst, but for the treachery they felt when the press got hold of the story Surely you are not suggesting that they simply shut up and kept playing?

  3. No, where we differ is on whether the players had the slightest right to do what they did. I say they had no such right and did the equivalent of burning or defecating on their national flag. And I say the money they earn sets them apart from workers asserting their republican rights, and is therefore pertinent.

    Domenech is an irrelevance to that question, though I felt the suspicion you and Bill have repeatedly expressed, that he was the leaker, merited further attention in view of his own denial yesterday.

    Mais zut alors … I promise to move on!

  4. Salut. I’m puzzled for the reasoning behind providing YET ANOTHER thread to this sorry saga.

    Neither myself nor Bill have likened the striking French team to the Tolpuddle Martyrs or provided any mention of downtrodden proletarians etc. It’s very easy to tie these remarks with a tirade about the fact that they are well paid. However, there is not a single event or comment in the whole story which suggests that money had any part to play in it. It didn’t. The huge sums they are paid or playing club football has nothing to do with playing for France in the context of this debate. I completely agree that the team was terrible. Hardly surprising when you consider that Domenech was in charge for so long. The talisman that was Zidane who was the real power behind the throne has long gone and it’s Ridiculous Raymond leading the way. It’s too ridiculous for words and the frustration that they showed in S Africa boiled over in the most spectacular fashion. The FFF’s continued support for Domenech was bound to result in a complete meltdown. How can a team of talented players possibly respond a man like RD? He was completely out of his depth but the FFF refused to let him drown of give him a rubber ring.

    The incompetence surrounding this saga goes beyond Domenech. The buck ultimately stops with the FFF.

  5. Luke: both Anelka and Evra’s “we’re on strike, not banned” comments were very funny and I salute them for that – and I won’t even suggest that it makes a mockery of all that “sorry for what we did” stuff we’ve heard from some for the other players.

  6. To be quite honest I don’t really care what happens with the French international team. I would rather be reading something about Sunderland or their upcoming opponents.

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