Friday 24 February 2017

Anelka should never play for France again -- Escalettes

Bruce Maxwell

Nicolas Anelka should never play for his country again, according to outgoing French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes.

The Chelsea striker was sent home from France's World Cup campaign earlier this month after refusing to apologise for a dressing-room rant aimed at coach Raymond Domenech. The incident sent the camp into chaos as the players refused to train, ostensibly in support of Anelka, and France crashed out after losing to South Africa in their final group game.

"Neither I nor my successor, nor the future coach, will forget what happened and everyone will ensure that he cannot play for France," said Escalettes, who stepped down from his position in the wake of the debacle. Referring to Anelka's rant, Escalettes added: "I only knew what I had read. As soon as I knew, and having made a minimum of checks -- a player told me that the remarks were worse than reported -- I immediately punished the perpetrator of this insult."

Escalettes was speaking before a cultural affairs committee of the National Assembly as the inquest into how France's campaign was allowed to go disastrously wrong continued. Also speaking to the committee was Domenech, who was forced to explain his actions in refusing to shake the hand of South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira following their defeat. At the time, Domenech explained it was because of comments the Brazilian had made about the manner of France's qualification, courtesy of Thierry Henry's infamous handball against the Republic of Ireland.

"The whole of France, being well-meaning and so quick to make moral judgment, found no fault with the accusations of Mr Parreira," Domenech told the committee.

"It is important for me to defend the image of the France team. I probably did not measure the negative media coverage of my gesture. I probably should have told him directly and discreetly."

Meanwhile, Florent Malouda has blamed the World Cup fiasco on the system, a poor environment and the coach's refusal to listen to players. The Chelsea winger said there had been no dialogue between the players and outgoing coach Domenech.

"With France I came to play where I was asked to and that was it," Malouda said. "We did not even try to see the coach to talk about the tactical system, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.

"It was just 'put yourself there and no arguments'. We did not look for explanations. Never in the last few years did my words have any influence on the coach.

"It was difficult for me to accept the way the national team functioned compared to a great club like Chelsea. Every time I was called up to the national team, it was back to negative stories and bad vibes."

Sunday Independent

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