It’s not often that you get to watch a team implode with the vigor and drive France is putting into their self-immolation, but here we are, with French fans wondering why they couldn’t use that energy towards, you know, winning matches. But that would be to…pedestrian–yes, pedestrian, that’s the right word–of them. No, they’re beyond that and Eklavya has kindly provided translation of Domenech and Ribery’s statements on TV for us to read, wonder at, and then get back to watching pundits curse on ESPN (h/t inNYC).
These comments come from a Téléfoot (aka TFI, if I understand correctly), the Ribery part of which can be seen here (again, unless I’m mistaken):
TV Host: Hello Raymond. France’s team is in crisis. We got reports this morning about a fight between Gourcuff and Ribery. It is true or is it false?
Domenech: I am not aware of this. What is this, now?
Host: That there would have been a fight between Ribery and Gourcuff. Can you confirm? Or is it false?
Domenech: Of course it false. I live with the team. It’s another story invented by the press. I can’t understand what the objective is of these sorts of stories which don’t even have a basis, don’t have a source, and don’t have anything truthful in it. I was with them in the bus, I was with them on the plane.
Host: There have also been reports of Zidane influencing the tactics you were using then you refusing to use them.
Domenech: If this wasn’t so dramatic, it would have made me laugh. I won’t laugh because after a while it becomes so tiring. If we are here to take all the false rumors circulating around the team and talk about them, then there is no reason to continue this show.
Host: But the report with Anelka isn’t a false one. What about that?
Domenech: People do not realize the pressure. Pressure put by everybody. Lizarazu knows how it’s like. In a locker room, a coach says something to a player who is already under pressure, there can be a moment of irritation. But it’s not about what happened in that moment itself. For me what he was doing was insufficient so I told him. It is, to me, normal to do this. He didn’t react in a professional way but it’s a guy mumbling in his corner, it does not matter. It took importance when it came on the front page of a newspaper. Before it came out, it was the internal life of the squad. There was never a confrontation, never a guy who suddenly stood up like that and shouted or did anything violent, no! I had resolved the problem internally, it was over. I had a discussion with him afterwards. The next day (Friday), I gave him the opportunity to apologize, but he would not do so. I can’t believe they made such a thing out of it when it’s strictly between the team. I can’t understand, I just can’t understand why they have done it. What is the goal of this? To disturb the team? We still have hope. There is still one match left, there is still something do to. I’m telling you, there is a group, there is an internal life with people who try to do something but the outside is saying things which are taking such huge proportions that we are not even allowed to hope. We –
Lizarazu: Raymond –
Domenech: If we were to stop now it would be dramatic –
Lizarazu: Raymond –
Domenech: Every athlete lives through tough times. The basic idea is to cling to this idea: it is still possible –
Lizarazu: Raymond, you know what the problem is? There is no authority in the French squad. You are saying a speech which says the team is fine, that they have confidence, they are living well, there is a good atmosphere but the results are showing the contrary. How can you try to stop the press inquiring, searching, demanding answers when it has gone as far as a player insulting the coach?
[There is a break here, I believe. -ed]
Host: Ribery has also come to join us.
Ribery: Hello everyone, I am here because, it’s true, since a few days we are going through a really difficult time. The players, the fans, the country. It’s true that the team is suffering with everything that is happening currently. There have even been reports of me having a fight with Yoann [Gourcuff]. That is false. I don’t have any problems with Yoann. On the contrary, I was the first to speak with him because he is here for the France national team. We need Yoann. I talked with him yesterday and I found him feeling a bit sad, it felt as if it wasn’t going very well for him and I was the first to talk to him because we need a player like Yoann Gourcuff. And when they say that I fought with him in a plane? Nonsense.
Lizarazu: But contrary to what you are saying, with all these reports with Anelka and everything else, we are all under the impression that it has exploded. It has exploded since months.
Ribery: Of course it has exploded. We all suffering. It’s not just us, it’s the whole nation that is suffering. Honestly, we weren’t good. The players weren’t good. We all played individually. We didn’t win, after all. Against Uruguay we tried, but we tried individually, not together. The atmosphere of the team in 2006? It was excellent! Since the Euro 2008? We have been suffering. There have always been problems. There are some things that are meant to stay inside. But there has been someone telling the outside. Things like this are not normal. Seriously, we all saw Nicolas [Anelka] leaving, and he was sad, he was touched. Because he likes France.
Host: Did you want him to stay?
Ribery: Of course, we wanted him to stay! We all wanted him to stay. We didn’t want him to be excluded. In every club there are problems like these. But they are dealt with in the club and they are meant to stay inside. So please, stop! Stop it, because it’s getting too much.