PARIS - France midfielder Jeremy Toulalan
admitted on Sunday he played a direct part in Les Bleus' boycott
of a training session during their disastrous World Cup campaign
in South Africa and deeply regretted it.
The 26-year-old Olympique Lyon midfielder had been regarded
by French media as one of the "nice guys" put under pressure by
senior players branded as "immature gang leaders" by sports
minister Roselyne Bachelot.
But Toulalan told the weekly Journal du Dimanche that his
private press officer helped with the writing of the players'
statement on the boycott of a training session in support of
Nicolas Anelka expelled for insulting coach Raymond Domenech.
"With a few players, we wrote down a few ideas to explain
our views, then with the help of our press officers we gave them
some shape to be sure people would understand our approach," he
"We didn't approve of what Nicolas Anelka had said, it's bad
but it can happen. When the incident made the front page of
L'Equipe things moved really fast," he added.
"We heard Nicolas was about to be kicked out, we tried to
arrange a meeting with the coach. It never took place because
the decision had already been taken."
Anelka's sending off and the boycott of the training session
two days before the last group game against South Africa caused
an uproar in France.
Toulalan, however, said the players did not realise how
serious the situation was.
"I'm not proud of what I did but I accept responsibility,"
he said. "There were no ringleaders and no slaves, no good guys
and no bad guys. We were all involved and we are all responsible
because nobody said a word (against the boycott)," he said.
The midfielder also denied playmaker Yoann Gourcuff had been
ostracised and even physically threatened by more senior players
like Franck Ribery or Anelka.
"It's totally untrue. I even heard that I had to pull apart
Franck and Yoann, It's a load of rubbish. They never had an
argument," he said.
Toulalan added that he was deeply affected by Les Bleus'
first round exit without a win.
"We should have talked to each other on the pitch and shown
during the games the solidarity which was ours in support of
Anelka," he said.
"I'm going through a nightmare. I'm still wondering how we
managed to do such things. It's a stain on my career and it will
be very difficult to wipe it off."
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