Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nicolas Anelka - Dead From Laughter

The aftermath from the French embarrassment at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa finally culminated today with four players from the team receiving multi-game suspensions from the French Football Federation.  Nicolas Anelka received an 18 game suspension, Frank Ribbery received 3 games, Partrice Evra got 5 games and Jeremy Toulalan got 1 game.   

If you don't remember the whole incident began when Anelka was sent home and fined after insulting then coach Raymond Domenech at a team training session (I say "then coach" because he has since been fired a move that I feel should have occurred before the tournament even started).  After he was sent home the players boycotted the next practice in defiance of the decision.

The only reason I am writing about this is because when I read Anelka's reaction to the suspension I laughed for quite a while.   Check out this tirade in the French newspaper France Soir:

“For me, this whole thing with the commission of whatever it is is an aberration, a masquerade to make sure they don't lose face.  They have punished a void, as Nicolas Anelka never existed in this pitiful and colourful affair. I repeat: the page with les Bleus was turned on June 19 when I was evicted from Knysna

They are real clowns, these people... I am dying with laughter.

The France team is all in the past. I wear a blue shirt with Chelsea every weekend and that's far enough for me."

What a beauty speech.  As if French Football didn't have enough problems after the World Cup debacle they now have players from the team laughing at them as they ban them for 18 games.  Anelka wasn't even mad.  In fact he seemed amused that the French Football Federation would even consider this a punishment or that he would even entertain the thought of playing for France ever again.

At this point I was laughing.  Then I found out that Anelka had already retired from international football meaning this "punishment" was a huge joke and had no bearing on Anelka whatsoever.  Even if he hadn't retired the 18 match ban would probably end up lasting about 2 years, give or take a few months, at which point Anelka would be 33 and not a consideration for the team.

Reading reactions from people on the internet it would seem that most people are hating on Anelka for not only this latest outburst but also what he did in South Africa.  Many people are saying that he is rude and disrespectful and that no matter how lousy a coach is he should still be treated with the respect his title and position demand.

I might agree with this position if not for two glaring oversights. 1)While he may be outspoken and a bit of a drama queen Anelka has never spoken out against a coach before in anyway like this.  In fact he has the reputation of being a great teammate and a solid guy in general and 2) Raymond Domenech might be the worst coach in football history.  Everyone in France called him 'Inspector Clouseau' and would often second guess his squad selections.  If any coach deserved to be called out its this Ensign Ricky.  I mean just look at him:

Going forward France will have to try and win matches without some of their best players.  Anelka was easily their best striker and Ribbery is one of the best midfielders in the world.  In the same paper Anelka made his outburst in new French head coach Laurent Blanc had this to say, ""Obviously, this is not the ideal situation for French football who would need all its trump cards to tackle the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012."

Maybe this is a good thing.  Now France can focus its attention on more pressing matters other than football, like surrendering in foreign wars.

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