PARIS (AP) — Patrice Evra is in trouble again with the national team after being summoned by France coach Didier Deschamps and the French Football Federation's president to explain comments he made during a television interview.
In an interview with Telefoot aired Sunday, Evra criticized commentators in the French media — including former France left back Bixente Lizarazu — calling them "tramps" and "parasites" and claiming they had 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. After the tournament, he was banned by the FFF for five games over his role in the team's strike.
Evra, who plays for Manchester United, has been part of the France team which failed to qualify automatically for the 2014 World Cup. The FFF said Sunday its president Noel Le Graet and Deschamps want Evra to explain his remarks.
Although "no attack was made against the FFF, the France team, the coach or the players" the federation wants" Patrice Evra to come and explain certain comments aimed at television consultants." Deschamps, speaking later on French television, said "I regret the comments made" by Evra.
"We will ask him for an explanation, which I think is perfectly normal," Deschamps said. "He can think these things, but to say them isn't a good thing." Deschamps was Evra's coach when Monaco reached the 2004 Champions League final.
"I know him as player and a person," Deschamps said. "But I'm treating him like I would any other player." He added that Evra will "never be captain" of France again while he's in charge. The timing of Evra's interview is poor given that France has a World Cup playoff to prepare for next month.
In it, 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 over 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. He was also critical of Blanc after the former France boss dropped him after the opening game of last year's European Championship against England, claiming Blanc had never explained why.
Evra was particularly scathing about Lizarazu, the former left back who won the Champions League and several league titles with Bayern Munich. "I don't know what Lizarazu has against me. I was voted best left back in the world twice and four times best left back in the Premier League. I don't know if he's ever been voted the best left back in the world," Evra said. "When I first came into the France team he's the only one who didn't shake my hand. I remember Thierry Henry told him 'He's the future' and he responded 'Why, who told you I was retired?' He was really angry."
Lizarazu, who played 97 times for France and won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, said on RTL radio station that he was shocked by the "vulgarity and timing of Patrice Evra's remarks." Lizarazu was effectively no longer an international when Evra made his debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina in August, 2004. He retired from international football after France lost to Greece at Euro 2004.
"I will settle the score with a few commentators," Evra continued. "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.
"I hope I come across him (Menes) one day. He spoke about my family, he said Evra would be ready to sell his mother to get back into the France team," Evra said. "(Florent) Malouda already has and if you pay attention closely, he no longer speaks about Malouda, because Malouda's already nabbed him. I hope I nab him, too."