Houllier denies Anelka claims of racism

Published 10/18/2015, 7:40 AM EDT
French soccer player Nicolas Anelka attends the Davis Cup semi-final doubles tennis match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet of France and Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris September 13, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

REUTERS – Former France and Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has dismissed allegations by former Reds striker Nicolas Anelka that he is a racist.

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In his autobiography “Je ne marcherai jamais seul” (I Will Never Walk Alone), Houllier wrote that “for the first time of my life I saw black men turn red-faced”, referring to an argument with Anelka’s brothers during negotiations to extend the striker’s deal at Liverpool.

The book’s title is a reference to “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, a song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” that Liverpool fans adopted as a club anthem.

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In a YouTube video post, Anelka said Houllier’s comments were “of a racist nature” and he alleged that “it (was) not the first time”.

Houllier, who led Liverpool to a League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup treble in the 2000-01 season, rejected Anelka’s comments.

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“It is absolutely risible and ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying by French sports daily L’Equipe on Sunday.

“It’s false, completely false. I defy anyone to say that I am a racist with the number of black players I had the chance to work with. (Eric) Abidal, (Alou) Diarra, (Michael) Essien and so many others, you ask them.”

Anelka moved to Liverpool in late December 2001 on a short-term loan, scoring five goals in a late title push which saw the Reds finish second in the Premier League.

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Houllier decided against offering Anelka a permanent Anfield contract at the end of the season, instead signing Senegal’s El-Hadji Diouf. The decision rankled some Liverpool supporters who were keen to see a proven goal scorer retained.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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