Friday 23 February 2018

Blanc hits out at defender as PSG suspend 'pitiful' Aurier

Serge Aurier. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters
Serge Aurier. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Mark Ogden

Laurent Blanc has described Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier as "pitiful" after the French club's Qatari owners suspended the player in the wake of a homophobic insult directed at Blanc during a supporter Q&A on Periscope.

Aurier, an Ivory Coast international, will miss tonight's Champions League tie against Chelsea in Paris following an investigation into the incident on the live-streaming app.

PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi expressed the anger of the club's Qatari hierarchy yesterday.

"I took the decision to suspend Serge Aurier," Khelaifi said. "Paris Saint-Germain is a very strong institution which nobody can touch, and this video, filmed in a private setting, clearly contains unacceptable comments about team-mates and, especially, coach Laurent Blanc.

"PSG wishes to express its fullest support to coach Blanc and to the players, who have rightly felt offended by Aurier's remarks."

But while PSG moved swiftly to address the matter - Aurier is understood to be facing the possibility of being sacked by the Ligue 1 leaders - a clearly angry Blanc condemned the player when asked about his conduct during a pre-match press conference at the Parc des Princes.

"How did I react?" Blanc said. "Very badly. Very badly. We can think whatever we like - this is a democracy and we are free to think about things, have our opinions - but that guy, that boy. . . two years ago, I committed myself to make him come to Paris, and seeing what I saw yesterday, that's all the thanks I got.

"That's pitiful. Pathetic. I won't say more because I'm here to talk about the Chelsea game, a very important match, but he has penalised himself.

"He should have been preparing today for a last 16 round game in the Champions League. That would have been better than staying at home not knowing what to do.

"It's bad for him, but it's bad for the club because it has penalised the club. He can do what he wants and handle the consequences, but he has penalised the club - through the image he's given, and what he said."

Aurier, who also insulted team-mates Zlatan Ibrahimovic, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and full-back Gregory van der Wiel, faces a battle to win over a dressing-room containing several senior players who are understood to be unwilling to play alongside the 23-year-old again.

In an attempt to display contrition, the right-back issued a video apology for his actions.

"I made a big mistake. I am here to say sorry to the coach, the club and my team-mates, and to the supporters because they are the most important people," he said.

"I want to apologise especially to the coach. I can only thank him for all he has done for me since I arrived in Paris. He wanted me and since I came here everything has gone really well. I owe him a lot and that is why I apologise sincerely to him for what was said, which I deeply regret.

"I will accept any sanction the club impose on me. I made a mistake, it was unforgivable and I am ready to face all the consequences." (© Independent News Service)

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