Soccer

Evra escapes punishment for television rant

PARIS (AP) — Patrice Evra has escaped punishment from the French Football Federation over his furious rant during a television interview and is available for next month's World Cup qualifiers.

Evra was summoned to speak to French FA president Noel Le Graet and national coach Didier Deschamps on Thursday to explain comments he made during the interview last Sunday. During it, Evra criticized commentators in the French media — including former France left back Bixente Lizarazu — calling them "tramps" and "parasites" and claiming they tried to turn public opinion against him.

Evra was France's captain during the 2010 World Cup when the team refused to train after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech. "Noel Le Great and Didier Deschamps once again let the player know how they formally disagreed with some of the terms used," the FFF said in a statement on Thursday. "For his part, Patrice Evra wanted to reaffirm, as a preamble, his attachment to the France team and his love of the blue jersey, saying he did not wish, in any way whatsoever, to damage the image of the national team or of French football."

The FFF added that while Evra accepted that the timing of his outburst, and the choice of his words, were inappropriate he maintained that he is the victim of relentless criticism from certain media pundits and that his family has suffered as a result.

The FFF even appeared to take Evra's side against TF1 channel — which broadcasts national team matches and so had access to him for the interview — when saying that "he finished by cracking up at the end of a long interview cleverly done to push him to his wit's end."

Evra, who plays for Manchester United, has been part of the France team which failed to qualify automatically for the 2014 World Cup. France takes on Ukraine in a two-leg World Cup playoff next month, and that also appears to have worked in his favor.

The FFF added that with "two decisive games for the future of French football" coming up "Noel Le Graet has decided that Patrice Evra remains at the disposal of the national team coach." In his interview with Telefoot, a visibly irate Evra said "it's not these tramps (in the media) who are going to sully my image" referring to television and radio pundits like Lizarazu, former France midfielder Luis Fernandez, former Marseille coach Rolland Courbis and Pierre Menes, an outspoken pundit. He named all four during the interview.

"They have to stop lying to the French. I have a good image in France, not to mention abroad," Evra said. "After the World Cup, before we left I told all the players 'Go home, go on holiday, because the only one who's getting it in the neck is going to be me.' And that's what happened."

All four have been highly critical of Evra since his role as captain in France's strike at the World Cup. Evra made a public apology after being recalled by Laurent Blanc following his ban. Evra was particularly scathing about Lizarazu, the former left back who won the Champions League and several league titles with Bayern Munich.

"I will settle the score with a few commentators," he said in his interview. "They want to lie to the French people that Evra's unloved, but that's not the case." The 32-year-old Evra stopped just short of threatening his detractors.

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