World Cup 2010 - Anelka: France row inevitable

Eurosport - Thu, 15 Jul 10:40:00 2010

Nicolas Anelka has said France's World Cup meltdown was inevitable, and the squad was united in its decision to boycott training.

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Anelka was expelled from the squad following a row with coach Raymond Domenech, which sparked a players' mutiny in protest.

"If it was not from me that everything was precipitated, this would have happened with someone else. It had to explode," claimed the Chelsea striker.

France has been abuzz with public recrimination since the country's humiliating first-round exit, with claims that the squad was split into factions and that some players were reluctant to strike.

However, Anelka has insisted the team was unanimous.

"Everyone, and I mean everyone, was united," the 31-year-old told France Soir newspaper.

"In the case of mutiny, everything and its opposite was said. If there were players who wanted to train, they should speak now. But I am 100 per cent certain that nobody will."

Jeremy Toulalan on Sunday accepted the whole squad should be punished for boycotting training, telling Journal du Dimanche: "I'm not proud of what I did but I accept responsibility.

"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). Whoever says otherwise is a liar."

Anelka praised the Lyon midfielder's stance, saying: "It takes a form of courage and a strong mentality from Jeremy to take it. I am proud to have played with him and the team of France. Jeremy is a players' player."

The former Arsenal and Real Madrid forward was less complimentary about former France full-back Bixente Lizarazu.

A World Cup winner with Les Bleus in 1998, Lizarazu has been critical of Anelka's casual attitude in South Africa, accusing him of "strolling" and playing "in a selfish manner".

Anelka responded by sarcastically asking: "Lizarazu - who is he?

"When he speaks and we listen, we seem to hear a living legend. He's just a former player in lack of recognition, frustrated by the success of his mates (Zinedine) Zidane and (Christophe) Dugarry.

"Has he forgotten that he was at the 2002 World Cup? I was not included in the squad but I refrained from comment. He should stop talking about respect."


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