A decade ! Already. Ten years ago, the French football team ridiculed themselves in Mondovision by refusing to get off a bus to go to train, just a few days before a major match against South Africa. This incident, on the border between masochism and burlesque, has since entered into everyday language by becoming “the Knysna strike”. Named after this South African town, wedged between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, who had asked nothing of anyone and who was hosting the Blues in this South African World Cup.
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Sidney Govou was part of this cursed outfit. A racy striker, with 406 club matches with Olympique Lyonnais, he was a former member of the France group led by Raymond Domenech. He had already participated in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and in the 2004 and 2008 Euros, respectively in Portugal (under the direction of Jacques Santini) and in Switzerland. With more than 45 selections to his credit at the start of the 2010 World Cup (49 caps in all with 10 goals scored), Govou is not, however, an essential framework. But he is not a beginner either … One thing is certain, he knows that this World Cup in Africa – the first ever organized on this continent – will not go well.
When Govou scored a superb goal against OM
"In fact, we felt it happen in 2008," he admits. So foot. After the Euro, it was almost impossible to do something good at the World Cup and we quickly understood it, even if we wanted to believe it, even if we had a good team … There were too many divergences with the coach, with the media … And we did not have a group capable of facing all that, even if we all played in big clubs. It is not because we play the Champions League every two weeks that we are able to cope in such a situation (…) I was happy to go to South Africa, to playing for this jersey … (…) Some claimed certain responsibilities, but ultimately they wanted these responsibilities to shine individually rather than to create a collective. That's what killed us. "
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After a draw (0-0) in Cape Town against Uruguay in the opening of this soon disastrous campaign, France lost a few days later to Mexico (2-0), in a pulp unworthy of a finalist of the World Cup four years ago in Berlin. The psychodrama Nicolas Anelka, who allegedly insulted the coach at half time in an already rotten match, comes into the locker room. Excluded from the group by the presidency of the FFF in agreement with the technical staff, Anelka, without really wanting to, pinned a grenade. Which will explode in the eyes of everyone a few days later, on the edge of a vulgar training ground in Knysna …
Didn't want to play this match …
"We were touching Nico, someone important in the group, whom everyone appreciated," breathes Govou. But this is what is unfortunate. The unit was done in the wrong way. For me, the reason was laudable, but the way was not the right one (…) Did I think of getting off the bus? Of course, but I didn't do it, so I'm part of it. At the time, it's hard to understand, because we don't know it's filmed live … Above all, we didn't really want to go on strike. We wanted to go back to the locker room, it was a day of scrubbing, we thought it would have another impact. It was also badly done because we had to go to the stadium, where there were kids we wanted to sign autographs … In fact, it was a succession of events that led to this disaster. (…) Behind it, it no longer looks like anything. In my head, it's dead. We are told that we can possibly qualify … But I know it's fucked up. You cannot become overnight a team capable of winning a game by three goals apart. I didn't even want to play this match (he will return in the 82nd minute in place of Alou Diarra, Editor's note). Honestly, I don't keep much positive about this adventure, except maybe a visit to a township and a few moments of common life. ”
This fatal June 22, 2010 definitively ends his international career. Sidney Govou will never wear the blue jersey of the France team again!