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Anelka, Ribéry and Henry 'a bunch of imbeciles'

Former coach of the French national team Raymond Domenech has unleashed a withering attack on several members of his disgraced 2010 World Cup squad in a new book. Domenech called his players "imbeciles" and branded Franck Ribery a "diva".


Former France coach Raymond Domenech has launched a scathing tirade on several members of his 2010 World Cup squad in a new book, recounting that he was so exasperated by their behavior that he exploded with rage and called them “a bunch of imbeciles.”

In his book Domenech branded Franck Ribery a "diva", Samir Nasri a "symbol of selfishness" and said Nicolas Anelka "killed the group".

The team shocked the nation by going on strike at a training session after striker Nicolas Anelka had been sent home for insulting Domenech during the halftime break of France’s second group game at the tournament in South Africa, against Mexico.

Disaster at World Cup

Domenech’s bitter six-year tenure as France coach ended after the disastrous World Cup campaign and led to his dismissal as a member of the French Football Federation.

In a book called “Tout Seul” (All Alone), which will be published on Wednesday, Domenech reserves his most critical comments for Ribery, Anelka and Thierry Henry.

“I couldn’t bear to hear everyone giving their opinion on everything,” Domenech said. “I just wanted to be sick, to cry, to leave.”

On the day of the strike, hundreds of locals from the town of Knysna in South Africa 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 their bus.

French team 'crucified itself'

“The France team had just crucified itself, in public, live on television,” Domenech said.

“Maybe the players realized it, maybe they didn’t. Anyway, it was too late. The infernal machine had started up and was dragging all of Les Bleus to the abyss.”

Domemech felt powerless to regain any control of his squad. Even though France still had one match left to play, against host South Africa, Domenech was stunned when players chose to skip massage and other treatments, and he exploded with rage in the hotel lobby.

“I’m out of here. I couldn’t give a damn about this bunch of imbeciles,” he says in his book, written largely in diary form.

“I have no energy left. I don’t like them anymore. I’ve had enough of their tantrums,” Domenech wrote before the 2-0 loss to Mexico. “This team is completely incapable of transcending itself and I’m certainly to blame for something. I got it all wrong. I feel humiliated to have got it so wrong.”

Domenech confirmed that Anelka insulted him with an expletive when he reproached him for not working hard enough in the first half against Mexico, and he felt aggrieved that no other players backed him until then-captain Patrice Evra tried to calm things down.

Anelka 'killed the squad'

“He insulted me at halftime of the Mexico match when I hadn’t stopped fighting on his behalf ... he killed the squad,” Domenech said. “After the match, he was laughing along with (defender William) Gallas. What insensibility. Were they happy to lose?”

Domenech described Anelka as “an enigma” who “does nothing for others.”

When details of Anelka’s rant were published on the front page of sports daily L’Equipe, Evra suspected Henry had leaked the information to the press. But Henry blamed him, Domenech said.

“Evra thought he was the mole in the dressing room but then he (Henry) managed to turn everyone around, he even managed to suggest that I might be the mole,” said Domenech, who was highly critical of Henry’s attitude throughout the tournament.

He felt angry when Henry - who had hardly played for Barcelona that season - reproached him for not being picked.

Thierry Henry 'sulked'

“He’s played one whole match all year (and) shouldn’t be here; he’s sulking and not taking his responsibilities,” Domenech wrote.

Domenech said only striker Djibril Cisse, who was in tears, and winger Sidney Govou, showed any remorse for the strike, and that he and the players were shocked to find out that Henry had arranged a meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy upon his return to Paris.

“We asked ourselves if we weren’t dreaming,” Domenech said.

The French press talked of major rifts in the squad, all of which were denied. But Domenech now says he was convinced Ribery despised playmaker Yoann Gourcuff - who was being hailed as the new Zinedine Zidane.

“Ribery doesn’t like Gourcuff, that’s for sure. Before the Uruguay match, I told Gourcuff: ‘You have the keys to the match, it’s down to you,”” Domenech says. “The worst thing was Franck Ribery’s look. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but in his eyes I saw hatred, contempt or jealousy."

'Jumping ship'

“He’s the same as Anelka and Henry, everything revolves around their belly buttons. When things go wrong, they’re the first to jump ship. A senior player warned me about (Ribery) in 2008; and me, I gave him the keys to (the team). What a moron I am.”

Evra received a modicum of praise for his efforts in trying to unite the squad, but Domenech will always reproach him for not calling off the strike. Afterward, the coach found solace in the hotel bar.

“I went to bed after a few beers,” Domenech said. “Well, a few liters.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)


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