Franck Ribery back after sex scandal and ‘mutiny’
Coach Blanc picks Ribery for Euro qualifiers despite objections from French sports minister
The disgraced French football Franck Ribery (right) has admitted he "messed up" in 2010, both on and off the pitch. The Bayern Munich winger was speaking ahead of France's Euro 2012 qualifier away to Luxembourg on Friday when Ribery will make his first appearance for his country since their disastrous World Cup campaign.
The French were knocked out in the group stage after the squad mutinied against the coaching regime and the 27-year-old Ribery was later banned for three matches after being singled out as one of the ringleaders.
Prior to the World Cup, Ribery was enmeshed in a sex scandal after being named as one of several footballers to have solicited the services of a voluptuous teenage prostitute called Zahia Dehar.
"In my private life and in my life as a football player, I messed up," Ribery said at a press conference. "I took the wrong roads, I lost myself. I hurt people who are very dear to me, I let down and even shocked many others. I am angry with myself and I'm sorry for it. It's true that we got things wrong in South Africa [during the World Cup]."
Ribery, who was recalled to the national squad last week by French coach Laurent Blanc, has recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for part of the season and hopes to play against Luxembourg and then against Croatia in a friendly next week at the Stade de France.
Asked if he thought the public had forgiven him for his part in the mutiny that brought so much shame to French football, Ribery replied: "I was lucky enough to have been a player who was appreciated and loved by the French. I have suffered a lot and I am still suffering from having lost this privileged relationship with them. I want to get it back... let's turn the page, talk about the future."
Also included in the French squad for the first time since the World Cup is Manchester United Patrice Evra, the captain of France's World Cup squad who was banned for five matches in the wake of the revolt.
In recalling the pair, coach Blanc has gone against the wishes of the French sports minister Chantal Jouanno who said last week that the idea of Ribery and Evra representing their country was "unacceptable" to her. "There have been no excuses, no mea culpas and at the time they didn't renounce their bonuses," she said.
Ribery acknowledged the faith Blanc has put in him and promised to repay it on the pitch. "He trusts me a lot," he said. "I am conscious of the fact it was not easy for him to take me back, with all that was said. It's up to me to give it back." ·