France coach Raymond Domenech and his captain Patrick Vieira are playing down talk of revenge ahead of their eagerly awaited Euro 2008 encounter with world champions Italy on Wednesday.
A hostile reception awaits Italy at Paris’s Stade de France as French fans are still fuming from what they felt was an unjust defeat in July’s World Cup final.
Domenech, though, has pleaded for calm.
“I really hope the French public will respect the Italians and not whistle them during their national anthem, because it is a beautiful and melodic anthem,” he said.
“They are world champions and they did not steal that title from anyone.
“The Italians deserve to be applauded, at the beginning at least. After that, if we jeer our opponents during the match, that doesn’t bother me.
“But we should not whistle during the national anthems. I find it scandalous there was whistling during the anthems in Georgia on Saturday.
“If we want to show ourselves as honourable and sporting, we shouldn’t jeer the Italian anthem.”
Vieira, who plays his club career in Italy with Internazionale, echoed Domenech’s thoughts.
“This is not a revenge mission,” said France captain Patrick Vieira.
“Victory will not allow us to forget the disappointment (of losing the World Cup final) or the star (which signifies a World Cup victory) on their shirts.”
Earlier, Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso responded to suggestions that Italy had been lucky to win the World Cup, by suggesting that said France were still bitter about the loss.
“I know we usually complain after losses, but they do it even more,” Gattuso said. “Italy is second to France in that.”
“When we lost the European Championship 10 seconds from the end we didn’t create this type of controversy,” Gattuso said, referring to Italy’s golden-goal loss in the 2000 final.