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November 21, 2008

Is it 'cause he is French?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/7741430.stm

So it looks like William Gallas has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after publicly questioning the courage of his teammates.

My main problem with this is… wouldn’t Roy Keane have got away with it?

Keane, in fact, criticised several of his team-mates shortly before quitting Manchester United in 2005 – but it was a combination of that and other factors that led him to leave a few weeks later.

Keane also criticised the ‘prawn sandwich’ brigade, and made similar criticisms of his Ireland team-mates. Admittedly, that one got him shown the door.

And so I wasn’t surprised to see Keane stand up for Gallas.

But the Gallas affair just feels different. I think it comes down to a few factors:

  1. He’s French. Roy Keane’s outbursts could, to a limited extent, be put down to his slightly more charming Celtic manner and longstanding ‘cheekyness’. Gallas doesn’t have that luxury.
  2. Gallas hasn’t been at Arsenal for that long – even Arsenal supporters probably thought giving him the captaincy was a bit premature.
  3. Attitude – Gallas has been an abysmal captain in the last twelve months on the pitch. He’s shown babyish tendencies that David Beckham even at his worst moments would have been embarrassed by.

(It’s to football’s credit that ‘race’ isn’t a credible reason nowadays.)

So I’m torn. Part of me thinks Gallas’s outburst should have been taken more lightly. The other part thinks he’s had this coming for a while.


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