Former head of press for the France team, Philippe Tournon spoke of his worst memory with the Blues.
Didier Deschamps was on the set of the 20 hours of TF1, Wednesday, to unveil the list of Blues selected for the World Cup in Qatar. In the process, the tricolor coach followed up with a press conference. An exercise in which the native of Bayonne is particularly experienced. If he generally lends himself to it with good grace, the former midfielder has not hesitated in the past to boycott an appointment with journalists. Blame it on articles of The Team.
This boycott of Didier Deschamps of a press conference organized during Euro 2020 remains for Philippe Tournon, his worst memory as press chief, a position he held for more than three decades, between 1983 and 2006 then between 2010 and 2018. “I was caught in an evil and disturbing spiral. That is to say that during a match in Ostend, there were two players who were scheduled to go to the press: Deschamps, the captain, and Thuram. And before leaving by bus, Didier comes to see me and says to me: “I’m not going to the press and I won’t go anymore”. He considered himself the wrongful victim of a press campaign orchestrated by the team, which said: Deschamps, it’s fine, but maybe it’s time to see Vieira “he remembered with Djibril Cissé at the microphone of France Bleu.
The anger of Roger Lemerre
And the situation quickly degenerated for the press chief. “I argue. I try to dissuade him. He said to me, “Don’t waste your time and energy. My decision is made, I will not do it”. And before going to the table – the press conference took place just after the meal – Thuram comes to see me and says to me: “I’m screwed up, I’m not going to see the press”, he indeed continued. So there were no more players! Just Roger Lemerre, the coach. So, I go to see the hundreds of journalists gathered together and I tell them that the news is not good. At that moment, a journalist from La Voix du Nord climbed up on a chair: “Comrade! Once again, we are being laughed at. Some have traveled 500 kilometers to come and listen to the captain of the France team. He fails us. I suggest you boycott Roger Lemerre’s press conference which is due to happen. Enough to make the coach of the Blues furious.
“I had to go see Roger Lemerre, who said to me: ‘Look at me carefully. Under these conditions, I won’t go either! This link that they claim by being between the public and the France team, it is they who have broken it. And for me, it is definitely broken. I will never go to a press conference again”. So I warned President Simonet and the director general of the Fed, in Paris. And it did not fail, in the afternoon, Roger was forced to lower the flag, he added. But from that day, from Euro 2000 to the 2002 World Cup, he never gave a particular interview again. He had the lemon prize from France Football, three years in a row. It is certainly the most delicate passage that I had to manage. It had taken a political turn and it went beyond the framework of the France team. It had become a monumental ball. »