France captain Patrice Evra promised on Tuesday that his disgraced and humiliated World Cup team would not risk further public anger by claiming lucrative cash handouts.
But the Manchester United defender, dropped for the final match of his country’s doomed campaign, pledged not to hold back on revealing the inside secrets of how France’s World Cup fell apart in a storm of resentment and rage.
“I share the pain of all France. Tonight is the time for apologies. It’s an apology that could have been made yesterday, but I was banned from doing so by the coach,” said Evra, one of the ringleaders of the players strike on Sunday which was called to protest the expulsion of teammate Nicolas Anelka.
His part in that disastrous public exercise was punished by embattled coach Raymond Domenech who dropped him from the team’s 2-1 defeat to South Africa on Tuesday.
“Now is not the time to settle scores. All of France will have the time to have explanations for this disaster. I will give them. I will talk about what has happened. I will tell the truth. I have nothing to hide.”
France, the 1998 champions and 2006 runners-up, ended their ill-starred South African adventure at the bottom of Group A having lost to Mexico and South Africa and scraping a 0-0 draw with Uruguay.
They went home with one point, one goal and with the unwanted title of laughing stock of the football world.
Aware of the public fury, Evra said his teammates would not claim the bonuses owed to them from lucrative marketing deals.
“We will not accept a single cent from sponsors. We will refuse all the bonuses,” said Evra.
According to the agreement signed with the French Football Federation (FFF) the players would not receive any extra money for failing to reach the second round, but were liable to benefit from lucrative marketing revenues generated by the squad.
The Manchester United star refused to admit that the strike on Sunday, described as “unspeakably stupid” by Domenech and which saw the players refuse to train, had been a mistake.
“Our pain wasn’t exaggerated. We communicated our reasons for what happened,” he said.
“Tonight I was dropped from the team without a valid reason. These are difficult times.”