Ex-France and Liverpool coach Gerard Houllier has strenuously denied allegations of racism levelled at him by Nicolas Anelka.
Houllier recently released his autobiography and a turn of phrase when recounting his dealings with Anelka’s brothers, who also worked as the striker’s representatives, lie at the heart of the controversy.
Accusing Anelka’s siblings of acting unscrupulously in trying to sell the forward to a number of clubs, Houllier said that when he confronted them it was the “first and only time I saw black men turn red-faced”.
Anelka, who played under Houllier at Liverpool on loan from Paris Saint-German in the 2001-02 season and also in France’s age-group teams during the mid 1990s, posted a YouTube video saying Houllier’s comments were “racist in nature”, adding that it was “not the first time” the 68-year-old had acted in such a way.
In an interview with L’Equipe, Houllier said of the accusations: “It is absolutely risible and ridiculous. It is false, completely false. It is a serious slander.
“I defy anyone to say that I’m a racist with the number of black players with whom I have had the chance to work.
“[Eric] Abidal, [Alou] Diarra, [Michael] Essien and so many others – ask them.”