Gallas: France failed because Domenech 'couldn't talk to team'
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 08 July 2010
Coach raymond Domenech was the chief architect of France's World Cup failure because of his inability to communicate with the players, Arsenal's William Gallas claimed yesterday.
The 32-year-old central defender, capped 84 times by France, started all three group games of Les Bleus' disastrous campaign which ended with a first-round exit and was marred by scandals off the pitch.
"The real problem was the coach. We suffered from a communication problem. Domenech was not open to discussion," Gallas said. "A lot of players could not talk to him any more. Our opinion carried no weight so after a while we stopped talking. That's what I did. I was just listening and doing what he told me to do."
Gallas also said that Domenech was responsible for the boycott of a training session in support of striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home for insulting the coach at half-time in their 2-0 defeat by Mexico in their second group game.
"We wanted to protest against the decision taken by the coach and the [French Football] Federation (FFF) particularly because the coach said Anelka had not been kicked out because of his insults but because he had refused to talk about it afterwards," he said. "It's him (Domenech) who refused discussion.
"The boycott of the training session was decided during a meeting of all the players. Franck Ribéry was late because of a television interview. We all agreed to boycott training. There was no pressure from the senior players," Gallas added.
Domenech's six-year tenure ended in such a disgrace that it caused uproar in France. The sports minister Roselyne Bachelot castigated "the disaster of the national team made of immature gang leaders in command of scared kids."
Lilian Thuram, a prominent member of the 1998 World Cup-winning team and now a member of the FFF's council, said the players, who led the revolt, should be banned from playing for France again.
France's new coach Laurent Blanc, however, said in his first press conference that it was not his responsibility to take disciplinary action against players like Ribéry, Patrice Evra or Eric Abidal who have been branded as the ringleaders. "I shall select them if I think they are the best players available," he said. "I shall have to make choices and, perhaps, some of the players who were in South Africa will not be chosen if I decide they are not the best in their position."
The first real answer will come when the new coach names his first squad before France travel to Oslo for a friendly against Norway on 11 August. The first official game under his tenure is scheduled for 3 September when Les Bleus host Belarus in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
Patrick Vieira has confirmed that he is no longer interested in playing for France and will devote his time to Manchester City. Vieira was devastated at being left out of the World Cup squad after moving to Eastlands in January.
The 34-year-old said: "My focus is on City, nothing else. I want to do my best for the club. I want to repay the trust of the manager (Roberto Mancini), Brian (Marwood, football administration officer) and Garry Cook (chief executive)."
Vieira was saddened at the way events unfolded in South Africa, adding on City's official website: "I was there watching the games, hoping that France would do well. Obviously, they didn't.
"I'm disappointed like every French person who loves the national team. It was difficult not being with the team, but I didn't have the choice. It was a difficult moment. I think France are going through a tough period. We were expecting them to at least go through from the group to the first knockout round but they didn't do it."
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