Emotional Ribery rubbishes France rumours

20 June 2010 - 18:17 By Sapa-AFP

Franck Ribery made an emotional attempt to quash the rumours surrounding the embattled France team during an unscheduled appearance live on French television on Sunday morning.

The 2006 finalists are on the verge of World Cup elimination after a 2-0 defeat to Mexico on Thursday and scrutiny of the squad has intensified after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for rowing with coach Raymond Domenech.

Ribery played poorly in a central attacking role against Mexico after regular playmaker Yoann Gourcuff was dropped to the bench.

There were media reports the pair had to be pulled apart after clashing on the plane carrying the team back to their base following the game, but Ribery described the stories as “nonsense”.

“I have no problem with Yoann. Saying I fought with him is nonsense,” said the Bayern Munich star, who was handed a microphone after appearing on the set of TF1’s Telefoot programme here in the middle of a live interview with Domenech on Sunday morning.

Ribery, who spoke in a trembling voice and appeared close to tears at times, confirmed that the Mexico defeat had been keenly felt by the France squad.

“Of course, (the team) fell apart,” he said.

“It’s France that’s suffering, our country. I’m talking from the heart. I’m suffering. Everyone in the world is laughing at us. I’m pissed off because we’re not playing football anymore.

“The France team is a childhood dream, it’s an honour, and since Euro 2008 (when France were eliminated in the group phase) I’ve been suffering.”

France were roundly criticised for a tepid showing against Mexico and Ribery accepted that their performance had not been sufficient.

“We weren’t good, we didn’t sweat like we should have done,” he said.

“We were feeling good before, against Uruguay (0-0), but we tried to do things individually. I want to apologise to all the French people for not having giving them the World Cup they hoped for.”

France captain Patrice Evra had on Saturday downplayed the significance of Anelka’s outburst and said the squad were more concerned by the presence of a “traitor” in the camp leaking information to the press.

French sport daily L’Equipe had published details of Anelka’s row with Domenech in their Saturday edition, alleging that the Chelsea striker had told his coach: “Go and screw yourself, you son of a whore.”

“A traitor has revealed too many things and we’ll be relieved when we know who it is,” said Ribery, whose preparations for the World Cup were rocked by allegations he had sex with an under-age prostitute.

Ribery also denied that former France great Zinedine Zidane had any influence over team selection and said that he himself had never sought to change Domenech’s thinking on tactical matters.

To stand any chance of qualifying for the next round, France must beat hosts South Africa by four goals in their final Group A game on Tuesday and hope the match between Mexico and Uruguay does not result in a draw.

“We’ll do everything to win,” said Ribery.