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Old 16th November 2009, 10:46   #1
TanyaT
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Default Ireland fury after ‘insult’ from Lassana Diarra

Ireland fury after ‘insult’ from Lassana Diarra
Russell Kempson, Dublin The Times
November 16, 2009


With a place in the World Cup finals at stake, relations between the Ireland and France camps have become strained before the second leg of their European qualifying play-off at the Stade de France in Paris on Wednesday night.

Lassana Diarra, the France and Real Madrid midfield player, stands accused of “insulting the Irish people” after a scuffle at the end of the first leg at Croke Park in Dublin on Saturday, which France won 1-0.

Diarra exchanged words with Keith Andrews, the Ireland midfield player, who reacted angrily and had to be restrained by team-mates. Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland manager, blamed Diarra for the unseemly squabble.

“One player was insulted,” Trapattoni said. “I cannot say this sentence. It’s very bad. For me, it was a surprise. You cannot insult all the people. My habit is to name the sin not the sinner. Do not insult the Irish people.”

Andrews confirmed the Italian’s interpretation of the incident yesterday. “Yeah, that’s about accurate,” the Blackburn Rovers player said. “He made a disrespectful comment. I don’t want to say exactly what he said, he knows what he said. There was a bit of niggle in the game, but that’s just football and it happens. When the final whistle went, I saw him walking towards me and I thought he was going to shake my hand. He made a remark and I lost my head a little.

“You don’t really expect it from a fellow professional. It’s a massive two-legged tie, it’s only half-finished and, for a person to come out with something like that, it’s very disappointing. All our lads are aware of it, so we’ll see what happens on Wednesday.”

Thierry Henry claimed not to have witnessed the initial exchange. “I didn’t see that,” he said. However, the France captain did act as a peacekeeper as an irate Richard Dunne, the Ireland central defender, became involved.

“It was just one of those things,” Dunne said. “It stays on the pitch, that’s it.”

Although France are odds-on favourites to overcome Ireland and reach the finals in South Africa next year, the 2006 runners-up appear to be progressing despite their coach, Raymond Domenech, rather than because of him. It is believed in his homeland that he could be dismissed even if France go through on Wednesday.

Domenech and Henry were reported to have fallen out, not for the first time in his often stormy five-year tenure, before the match at Croke Park. Asked about it, Domenech said: “We had a discussion.”
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