x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Unrepentant Anelka denies rant against Domenech

The France striker reveals he never said the words but was unhappy with the "casting mistake" by the coach of insisting he play in a box.

The Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has said the former France coach Raymond Domenech made him feel disgusted with football by forcing him to play out of position during the World Cup. Anelka, who was sent home from South Africa for verbally abusing Domenech, has told the France Soir newspaper that the former France coach "should be ashamed" after making "a casting mistake." Domenech criticised Anelka for playing out of position and took him off during half-time of the group match against Mexico on June 17, prompting Anelka to launch a profanity-laced tirade at the coach. "My biggest regret is that I was not given the chance to play in my best position," Anelka said. "If the coach wanted to take a player which stays in the box, he shouldn't have picked me. He made a casting mistake." Domenech was replaced by former France international Laurent Blanc after the World Cup.

"It's the coach (not the players) who should be ashamed after his refusal in front of the world to shake hands with the coach of South Africa," Anelka said. Domenech refused to shake Carlos Alberto Parreira's hand after France lost its final group game 2-1 in South Africa. "And they told me that I have no respect?" Anelka said. "I have no respect for kamikazes. If he (Domenech) wanted to kill himself, he should have done it alone, but not with us." Anelka never denied ranting at Domenech but took French sports daily L'Equipe to court for libel after it printed details of the altercation, accusing the newspaper of distorting his words. The case is unlikely to start until after this month.

After Anelka's words were splashed across the front page of the newspaper, the French Football Federation sent the striker home, and the following day the entire squad went on strike at training in protest at the decision. "I'd like to see Domenech confessing to the world that I didn't use those words," Anelka said. "I wish he had the honesty to say it, and to say it to his mother, too." Anelka revealed he even thought about leaving the squad before the World Cup after a friendly in Tunisia during the preparations for the tournament. "I was already sick of playing that way," Anelka said. "But three senior players asked me to stay for the team. I finally stayed and I should not have." * AP