PARIS (AP) — France midfielder Amandine Henry was recalled to the national team on Thursday despite having made critical remarks about coach Corinne Diacre in a recent interview.
Henry, who was dropped for two European Championship qualifying games last month, will again be the team’s captain when France hosts Austria on Nov. 27 and Kazakhstan on Dec. 1.
»We started the qualifiers with Amandine as captain, that won’t change,» Diacre said in a video news conference. »I made the decision not to call her up for the last training camp. Everyone took that as an affront, but it was a decision made at the time.»
Henry became the latest France player to complain about Diacre when she spoke to broadcaster Canal Plus on Sunday. She described the atmosphere at last year’s World Cup as being tense and chaotic, with distressed players crying in their rooms.
»I’ve heard the recent criticism. The time isn’t right to resolve this problem when our national team is playing for its future on the field. We’ll deal with the problems face to face,» Diacre said. »I’m still standing, I’m supported by my president. I’ve heard what some people have said. This is a problem, we have to sort things out, but the priority is the France team and the match ahead.»
France is tied with Austria at the top of Group G with 16 points from six games. France has not conceded a goal but drew 0-0 in Austria and struggled without the influential Henry.
Henry has captained France since 2017 and has made 92 international appearances.
During a blunt phone call with Diacre lasting 15 seconds, Henry recalled how she was stunned when the coach dropped her last month. The rejection she felt reinforced her decision to speak out on behalf of herself and other players.
»I know I’m taking a risk, but if I don’t do it, then who will?» Henry said in the interview. »I saw girls crying in their rooms (during the World Cup), it happened to me that I cried in my room. I wanted to experience this World Cup, but it was total chaos.»
Henry also evoked a growing malaise within the squad, which contains several players from the dominant Lyon team that has won multiple Champions League and national titles.
»I had been getting heavy and negative feedback for quite a while,» Henry said. »Things couldn’t go on. I had to do something.»
Forward Eugenie Le Sommer, center back Wendie Renard, and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi all play for Lyon and have been critical of Diacre.
»I would bet both my hands getting cut off that France won’t win the Euro (2022) if Corinne Diacre stays in charge,» Bouhaddi said last month in an interview with Lyon’s TV channel.
Bouhaddi was not called up by Diacre on Thursday.
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