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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Raymond Domenech breaks his silence and admits his "mea culpa"

It has been quite a while since the former coach of the French national football team, Raymond Domenech, has given an interview of any sort.

He has remained discreet and refused to go into any details over the disastrous performance of Les Bleus at last year's World Cup finals in South Africa, the players' infamous strike, the disappointing Euro 2008 showing or his post-managerial plans after being fired in September 2010.


But in this week's edition of the French news magazine L'Express, published on Wednesday, Domenech breaks his silence.

Responding to some of the questions that others have been answering in his place over the past couple of months is, says Domenech, "an attempt to restore the truth and show that I'm not the moron I've been described as being."

And the 59-year-old doesn't mince his words.

"With hindsight I see them as a bunch of irresponsible brats," he says of the players who, in that now "legendary" non-footballing moment, returned to their bus and refused to get off for the training session before the team's final match against the hosts South Africa.

He admits that he didn't want to read out the players' statement but had little choice in the matter.

"There were hundreds of kids waiting on the sidelines and all the cameras were trained on the bus," he says.

"We were the laughing stock of the world. Somebody had to take responsibility and stop the charade."

Legal reasons prevent Domenech from speaking of the incident that sparked of the players' strike - the alleged altercation with Nicolas Anelka during the half time interval in the match against Mexico and the subsequent sending home of the striker.

But the former coach says quite simply that he did his job as trainer.

He has harsh words for the then-sports minister, Roselyne Bachelot, who was also in South Africa during the debacle and said that she had given the players a pep talk and believed that some of them had "tears in their eyes."

"The players were close to tears? Maybe of laughter," he retorts.

"I never got involved in the vaccination campaign (against H1N1 flu, for which Bachelot was also responsible as health minister) and when I'm not competent (in a matter) I hold my tongue."

The interview is far from being one in which Domenech passes the buck and blames others.

Far from it. He admits he made mistakes; from choosing the wrong players and not explaining himself sufficiently well to failing to step down from the job after the Euro 2008 campaign when France went home with just one point and one goal after the group stage.

"I've asked myself why I didn't resign then," he reveals.

"More than that, I wonder why I wasn't asked to step down."

But for all the admission of mistakes made Domenech doesn't take criticism well, and it's a trait which perhaps gives him an air of arrogance.

"If others have the impression that I have no regrets, then perhaps that's because I'm a bad communicator," he says.

"Let's be clear; I made mistakes in not choosing the right players or finding the right words," he continues.

"I don't accept the criticism of politicians or former players who are now journalists but that doesn't stop me from drawing my own conclusion over my record as a manager."

You can read the full interview on the website of L'Express.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well some people don't agree with you: Bixente Lizarazu says that Domenech still doesn't really take full responsibility for the disaster of the last World Cup. I personally would ignore this "Has Been and Never Was" of French football.

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