Paris: Patrice Evra, who was dropped as
France captain during the World Cup, acknowledged the squad`s
walkout from a training session at the tournament was a fiasco
and apologized on behalf of the players.
Evra, in an interview broadcast yesterday by TV network
TF1, said "the wound is open and we all are hurting right now"
- but insisted the team needs to move on.
Evra said the players wanted to show solidarity with
striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home from South Africa
after insulting the coach in a profanity-laced tirade reported
by French media and later worldwide.
"In such conditions, sometimes you can make clumsy
gestures out of love," Evra said of the practice walkout on
Sunday, adding it was a "group decision."
Two days later, the 1998 world champion was eliminated in
the group stage after two losses and a draw.
"There was this fiasco, and we are really sorry and
devastated, but you have to lift your head up and see the
future," Evra said.
He wasn`t alone among France players who took to the
airwaves to explain the team`s actions, which caused
consternation and embarrassment among fans and politicians
alike in France.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to personally
investigate the matter, and a parliamentary panel has summoned
the sports minister and the French Football Federation chief
for hearings Tuesday and Wednesday.
Former France captain Thierry Henry, the country`s
all-time leading scorer, said disputes in the changing rooms
happen in football - but the leak about Anelka`s blowup to the
press made this case different.
"Unfortunately, it happens in the changing room," Henry
told Canal Plus in an interview aired Friday. "The difference
is: it got out, and when it did, it took another dimension."
Still, Henry realized the walkout wasn`t the right
"It`s true, looking back, when you see the consequences
it caused, you can say it was an error," he said.
Henry, at 32 among the team`s leading veterans, also said
he felt "cast aside" on the squad and wasn`t listened to like
he once was.