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William Gallas refuses to speak to reporters

Dirty Tackle

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In news that is bound to rock World Cup Group A to its foundations, or something, noted French defender and dune-buggy enthusiast William Gallas has decided not to speak to the media for the duration of the tournament.

Why? Gallas didn't say why. To say why would have required him to speak to the media, and he isn't speaking to the media. His motives therefore remain hidden behind the drawbridge of obscurity that keeps us from learning the answers to so many other Gallas-related questions, like "Why did you get that weird quasi-mohawk that time," and "Why do you do almost anything."

So what's going on? Well, a lot of people are going to use this as further evidence that Gallas is just really selfish. He's supposed to be playing a leadership role on this team, and the French media are famously combative with players, and Gallas ducking the responsibility of being grilled when he's supposed to be setting a good example is just proof that he's a tantrum on stilts. You can probably sketch out the 3,000 blog posts and editorials that would make this argument — you know, if anyone still cared about William Gallas.

That's not how I see it. Unlike, say, Nicolas Anelka, Gallas has always struck me as a player who's motivated by some kind of guiding code of honor. It's just that in his case, the code is strange. It makes no sense to anyone else and often forces him to do exactly the opposite of what seems right for the moment. Maybe the difference between petulance and taking a stand is paper-thin, but in this case blocking out the press is probably supposed to mean eliminating distractions, focusing on essentials, and reaffirming the conviction that nothing matters except football.

To his mind, this is probably the move of a seasoned general. To everyone else, it's just a confusing bit of grandstanding from one of the game's most erratic egos. One man's Sun Tzu is another man's sunstroke. Well, at least he isn't boring, even when he's refusing to speak.

Photo: Getty Images

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