Disgraced Nicholas Anelka is sent home, but denies crude rant
FRANCE'S World Cup campaign was in disarray last night after Nicolas Anelka was sent home in disgrace from the tournament in South Africa after refusing to apologise for an alleged foul-mouthed rant at manager Raymond Domenech.
French captain Patrice Evra then poured oil on the flames of controversy by demanding that the "traitor" who had leaked the story of the dressing-room incident be exposed.
The original row took place during France's hugely disappointing performance against Mexico on Thursday. Chelsea forward Anelka was substituted at the interval after his manager questioned his attitude, prompting the player to reportedly tell Domenech to "go f*** yourself, you son of a whore", according to the respected French sports newspaper L'Equipe. The player last night admitted that he had a row with Domenech but denied having said the comments attributed to him.
"I have a lot of respect for France and for all my team-mates, I insist on that," Anelka told French publication France Soir. "I wish to state that the words printed in the press were not my words.
"I did have a heated conversation with the coach in the secrecy of the locker room, between the coach and myself, in front of my team-mates and the staff. It should never had come out of the locker room."
It was clear that Anelka was in serious trouble after he was absent from training on Friday, and a disciplinary hearing was convened by French Football Federation (FFF) president Jean-Pierre Escalettes.
After sending him home, the FFF stated: "The comments made by Nicolas Anelka towards national coach Raymond Domenech are totally unacceptable for the French Football Federation, French soccer and the values they defend."
Following that statement, skipper Evra let rip: "The problem of France is not Anelka, but the traitor among us. We must eliminate the traitor from the group, because he wants to hurt the team.
"We are not going to lie, the reporter did not make this up. There is no little mouse in the locker room, this comes from someone who is on the team and wants to hurt the team."
However, Evra, who revealed he was forced to intervene in the row, admitted Anelka was wrong to say what he did.
"His comments are unacceptable," added the Manchester United defender.
French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot last night called on the players "to show restraint and dignity".
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