Most bizarre media conference ever?
- 5 Jul 06, 10:07 AM
MUNICH - If the World Cup semi-final between Portugal and France is half as eventful as the pre-match press conference, it is destined to become an all-time classic.
Rarely have there been such scenes of chaos, confusion and a little touch of ill-feeling as there were when Portugal boss "Big Phil" Scolari and his French counterpart Raymond Domenech met the media deep in the bowels of the Allianz Arena.
It was a ticketed event, and the sudden slamming of the door left many distinguished journalists on the outside listening in - and by the noise they were not very happy about it.
"Big Phil" was first up, entering the room to a burst of applause from Brazilian journalists who wanted to salute their 2002 World Cup-winning coach.
Scolari was accompanied by a Portuguese press officer, a particulary doom-laden individual who wears the expression of a man who has just realised he may have left the gas on.
It was announced that there would be 15 minutes of questions in Portuguese and 10 minutes in English - although there was then another delay because of the din still being created by the media outside who had been refused entry.
So we waited patiently for our turn to arrive. The clock ticked on past the allotted 15 minutes and on towards 25 minutes.
Being polite souls, we declined to interrupt Scolari in such expansive mood.
Then, as we waited for "Big Phil" to address English questions, Dr Doom announced it was all over and with a flourish they were off.
"What about the English questions?"
"Why didn't you ask any?" said the grim reaper, who appeared to be enjoying stuffing the English again as he headed for the door with a very naughty word relating to his backside to send him on his way from one unimpressed observer.
The next act on stage was William Gallas, who said he wouldn't answer a question in English, even though he was reminded by the man from Sky he manages perfectly well after Premiership matches.
As he talked, a hand appeared from under his table waving what appeared to be a red card.
Who was this prankster? None other than the French coach Domenech.
Then the lights went out, prompting a Fifa official to sing the opening line of "Happy Birthday" before some semblance of order was restored.
It was an almost surreal experience and one that made you wonder whether you had wandered off from the World Cup and straight into Billy Smart's circus.
As omens go, it may or may not bode well for tonight.
Finally, in answer to those who have asked who I want to win the World Cup...France.
It would be fitting for Zinedine Zidane to crown his career with another winners' medal - and Thierry Henry deserves to grace the showpiece and, unlike the Champions League final, walk away triumphant.
So who is your pick? Do you fancy the increasingly impressive Italians or the winner of tonight's game?