PARIS - France's Thierry Henry and
Patrice Evra admitted on Friday that Les Bleus' World Cup had
been a "fiasco on the field" but insisted that the team stayed
united off the field until the end of their disastrous campaign.
"There was no quarrel, no fight," Henry told television
channel Canal Plus in his first interview since France were
ousted from the World Cup on Tuesday after a 2-1 defeat by South
Africa that left them bottom from their Group A without a win.
The 1998 winners' World Cup campaign, marred by poor results
but also the sending home of Nicolas Anelka after insulting
coach Raymond Domenech and the boycott of a training session in
support of the striker, caused an outcry back home.
President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a wholesale review of
French football and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot slammed
"immature gang leaders in command of scared kids".
"They should stop talking about gang leaders. I come from
the Paris suburbs, I know what a gang leader is and there aren't
any in the team. Nobody put pressure on anybody," Henry said.
"It was a fiasco on the field and the first reason is that
we didn't play well, we mustn't hide from the truth but then we
lost ourselves in discussions and made-up stories."
The 32-year-old Barcelona striker who has 123 caps to his
name but did not start a game in South Africa and only played
as a substitute, admitted the World Cup had been a very
"I felt sidelined. People were not talking to me as they
used to and when you lose credibility it becomes more and more
difficult," he said.
Evra, who captained the team in the first two games against
Uruguay and Mexico but was dropped for the third one, also
admitted on another television channel, TF1, that France's World
Cup had been "a flop" but stressed the team "stayed united until
The decision to boycott the training session to protest
against Anelka's exclusion was taken by the whole group, he
"There was not a single player, nobody, who wanted to come
out of the bus," he added, referring to the players' meeting
inside the team bus when the boycott was decided.
"It was a clumsy gesture. We felt sorry about the social
consequences but sometimes you are in such a situation that you
The fullback said he was hurt when Domenech prevented him
from apologising at a press conference on the day before the
South Africa game.
He promised, however, that Laurent Blanc, who succeeds
Domenech as France coach, "would find a squad of players united
and solidly linked by the will to restore the image and the
fortune of the national team".
"But there will be no miracle. We'll have to win games," he
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