Assistant France coach says rift is over
Assistant coach Alain Boghossian insisted on Thursday that a
bust-up in the France camp has been properly dealt with, and that
the players are now fully focused on beating Spain in the European
Two years after France’s strife-torn World Cup, a new rift has
emerged in the form of a heated dressing room exchange after
Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat by Sweden. This prompted the French to hold a
meeting the next day to ease tensions.
”The fire’s been put out. Nothing’s broken. Everyone said what
they had to say,” Boghossian said ahead of Saturday’s game with
the defending champions. ”We all had a chat over lunch when things
had calmed down. Then we had a little meeting after dinner.”
With media speculation in overdrive amid reports of fall outs
among players, and verbal altercations between players and staff
members, Boghossian insisted the situation is nothing like South
Africa in 2010 when Les Bleus went on strike at training.
”It’s not at all comparable,” he said. ”These things happen,
we shouldn’t pull the wool over our eyes. Tensions are normal when
you lose. If everyone was smiling after that defeat, we (the staff)
would have raised our voices even more.”
Boghossian thinks France could benefit from getting everything
out in the open.
”I think it’s a positive thing, because at least things are
clear between us now,” he said. ”There were some (verbal)
altercations, some exchanges. It’s like when you’re in a
relationship, if you brush things under the carpet then things will
Boghossian was reportedly involved in a bitter argument with
central defender Philippe Mexes over the careless way Mexes had
picked up a yellow card – meaning he is suspended for Saturday’s
”Philippe and I had a tactical exchange,” Boghossian said.
”He got his yellow card high up the pitch, which really didn’t
serve any purpose. But then again, if everyone had shown the same
commitment as him, maybe we wouldn’t have put in such a
Other reports suggest that coach Laurent Blanc was irate with
Hatem Ben Arfa, who had a poor game.
”It wasn’t that much of a clash. It was a discussion, an
exchange, and the two people concerned explained things to each
other,” Boghossian said. ”They shook hands and there’s no
Midfielder Samir Nasri has been the focal point of French media
criticism ever since his ”Shut your mouth!” gesture to a
journalist after scoring in the 1-1 draw against England in their
opening Group D match.
”There’s always one person who’s targeted during a competition.
I think Samir’s strong enough mentally to accept the criticism,”
Boghossian said. ”He went through that in England with City, and
he was strong enough to bounce back. It’s up to him to show us that
the criticism hasn’t got to him, and that he can play to his best
However true the speculation may be, they underline how France
sorely lacks a leader who could have prevented the tensions from
escalating in the first place.
The team which reached the 2006 World Cup final included
defender Lilian Thuram, midfielder Patrick Vieira, and playmaker
Zinedine Zidane. Not only were they great players, they were also
very vocal and played a crucial role in keeping the squad
Boghossian, a former midfielder and a member of the France team
that won the 1998 World Cup, has concerns over the leadership
”No one stands out as a leader on the pitch. The problem won’t
be solved between now and Saturday,” he said. ”You can’t just
click your fingers and say ‘let’s hope a leader’ comes along, or
point the finger at someone and designate him as that leader.
”Either the leader comes naturally, or if there isn’t one then
you do things another way.”
France’s captain is soft-spoken goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
While Lloris reassures his defenders with his calm presence, he
is not the inspirational leader that Zidane and Vieira were.
Boghossian says it’s not in Lloris’ nature.
”Raising your voice when you feel it’s the right thing to do is
great, but it’s not good to force things,” Boghossian said. ”It’s
never good to try and play a role.”