clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Anelka, Toulalan Defenses Highlight Complexity, Failure Of Domenech Era

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

While new France coach Laurent Blanc ponders how to move-on from the Les Blue's struggles in South Africa, Nicolas Anelka and Jérémy Toulalan have continued providing details behind the national team's boycott of a training session two days before France's final match.

Earlier this week, Toulalan, originally thought by French press to be one of the "good guys," confirmed that he was part of the group that drafted the players' boycott explanation, a letter that was eventually read to the press by then-coach Raymond Domenech:

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 said."

Within the article, Toulalan downplayed the idea that the boycott was met with dissension from within the French team:

"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.

On Friday, Anelka furthered the idea of a team unified in protest:

"Everyone, and I really mean everyone, was as one. If there were some players who wanted to train, let them speak now. But I’m 100 per cent sure that nobody will want to."

It was Anelka's verbal altercation with Domenech at halftime of France's 0-2 loss to Mexico that sparked the French meltdown. Anelka was subsequently sent home from the team, a decision that Toulalan said was made despite the players' request to meet before final action was taken:

"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."

The French players boycotted the team's next training session in support of Anelka, sparking a French soccer crisis that persists, with Laurent Blanc saying he may not call-up any of the World Cup roster to August 11's friendly against Norway.

The current crisis culminates events that started at the 2008 European Championships, where France finished with disappointing one point, playing at the bottom of their group. In response, Domenech resigned from the team only to end-up retained by the French Football Federation.

As the seeded team, France would finish second in their World Cup qualifying group to Serbia, forcing a playoff against Ireland, through which they qualified after a controversial handball from Thierry Henry led to William Gallas's tie-winning goal.

Through the entire process Domenech was highly scrutinized, creating an environment Anelka alluded to when when explaining his role in France's meltdown:

However, last night Anelka insisted the atmosphere inside the France camp at the World Cup was like a time bomb.

"If it hadn’t been me that brought it to a head, someone else would. It was waiting to happen," Anelka said.

Toulalan's quote from earlier this week may best summarize the state of mind with France's best players following the Raymond Domenech era:

"I'm not proud of what I did but I accept responsibility," he said.