Les Bleus 'a bunch of stupid brats'

Raymond Domenech breaks silence over World Cup 'masquerade' when players went on strike after Nicolas Anelka's exile.

    Domenech found himself in the eye of a storm as he coached france at World Cup 2010 in South Africa [GALLO/GETTY]

    Former France coach Raymond Domenech has broken his silence over Les Bleus' World Cup farce, branding the players "stupid brats" for going on strike at a training session – and making "a laughing stock" of their country.

    Domenech's bitter six-year tenure as France coach ended after last year's tournament in South Africa.

    He now says in an interview to be published on Wednesday in L'Express magazine that the players were to blame for ridiculing a once-proud national team that won the 1998 World Cup and European Championship in 2000 – and which Domenech took to the World Cup final in 2006.

    "At that point, I'm telling myself that they've gone mad and they don't realise (what they are doing). Now I know I was wrong"

    Raymond Domenech, former France coach

    "They knew perfectly well what they were doing. They even closed the bus curtains to hide from the cameras," Domenech said in extracts on the magazine's website.

    "Looking back, I see them above all as a bunch of irresponsible, stupid brats."

    The squad shocked the nation and provoked the anger of politicians and fans by refusing to train after striker Nicolas Anelka had been sent home for insulting Domenech during half time of France's second group game against Mexico.

    Anelka was later suspended for 18 matches by the French football federation.

    Former captain Patrice Evra (five games), Franck Ribery (three games) and Jeremy Toulalan (one game) were also banned for their part in the boycott.

    Rousing reception

    On the day of the strike, hundreds of locals from the town of Knysna gave the French players a rousing reception when they stepped off the team bus.

    After quickly shaking hands and signing autographs, they all returned to the vehicle.

    Anelka was sent home and later banned from the team for 18 matches [GALLO/GETTY] 

    "At that point, I'm telling myself that they've gone mad and they don't realise (what they are doing)," Domenech said.

    "Now I know I was wrong."

    Evra also clashed with fitness coach Robert Duverne, forcing Domenech to intervene before the situation escalated.

    While Knysna locals looked on in confusion, French fans at home watched the scenes unfold live on television.

    Adding to the drama, Domenech then unfolded a sheet of paper and slowly mumbled a speech written collectively by the players explaining their reasons for striking.

    "We'd been there for more than an hour. Somebody had to take responsibility and stop this masquerade," Domenech said.

    "We were the laughing stock of the world. I said, 'Stop this, I can't take any more of it.'"

    Domenech also accepted that he made mistakes at the World Cup.

    'Wrong players, wrong words'

    "I messed up. I didn't chose the right players or find the right words," he said.

    "I'm not the moron that's been described. I still need to sweep away certain memories. It's like love: you need to forget a woman so that you can love another one"

    Domenech on future jobs

    "I don't accept criticism from politicians, nor from former players who have turned to journalism, but that doesn't stop me making my own assessment."

    Domenech, who was replaced by Laurent Blanc after the tournament, had often been derided throughout his time in charge.

    Having led France to the World Cup final in 2006, losing to Italy on penalties, and struggled when playmaker Zinedine Zidane retired and midfielder Patrick Vieira was out injured.

    France went out of both the European Championships 2008 and World Cup 2010 without winning a game.

    Fans were angered when the French federation voted to keep him on in a secret ballot after Euro 2008.

    "I'm not the moron that's been described," Domenech said.

    Domenech has been coaching a children's football team in western Paris, but has not decided where his future lies.

    "I still need to sweep away certain memories ... It's like love: you need to forget a woman so that you can love another one," he said.

    "I've been offered things for the theatre, for the cinema. Nothing on television, no.

    "Honestly, can you imagine me in a reality TV show?"



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