Tensions may have risen in the France dressing room after they lost their final Euro 2012 group game but they are ready to start from scratch against Spain in Saturday's quarter-final.
The assistant coach Alain Boghossian, a 1998 world champion who was on the staff at the 2010 World Cup when off-pitch dramas led to an embarrassing first-round exit, revealed that strong words were exchanged after Tuesday's 2-0 Group D defeat by Sweden. But he said it was nothing compared to the fiasco at the 2010 World Cup, when the players went on strike in support of forward Nicolas Anelka, who had been kicked out of the squad for insulting the then coach Raymond Domenech.
"There were quarrels, well, let's say exchanges, but it's normal in a dressing room," he told a news conference on Thursday. "It would have been worse if nothing had happened. It's like in a couple, if you sweep the problems under the rug, at some point, it will explode."
The Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda had similarly told reporters on Wednesday: "It's normal to send some missiles in a dressing room after a defeat." Boghossian did not deny that the Newcastle United forward Hatem Ben Arfa and the coach Laurent Blanc had an argument but he said the row was over as the French try to put behind them a loss that ended a 23-match unbeaten run.
Ben Arfa told coach to send him home
Hatem Ben Arfa was so angry at being substituted in France's 2-0 defeat by Sweden that he told coach Laurent Blanc he could send him home if he wished, L'Equipe said on Thursday.
The attacking midfielder believed he was unfairly singled out in the match against a team that could not qualify, and angered Blanc by talking on the phone when the team returned to the changing rooms. "Hatem you don't need to be ringing your family in here!" Blanc reportedly told the player.
Ben Arfa, who has had problems in the past with other coaches such as Didier Deschamps at Marseille, replied that he should not have been taken off as there were several other players "who were worse" than him.
That prompted an angry intervention by Samir Nasri, adding that Ben Arfa ended with him telling Blanc that he could send him home if he wanted to.