A court in Toulon has rejected David Ginola's claim for damages against former France coach Gerard Houllier over remarks concerning Ginola's role in France's failure to reach the 1994 World Cup.

"/> A court in Toulon has rejected David Ginola's claim for damages against former France coach Gerard Houllier over remarks concerning Ginola's role in France's failure to reach the 1994 World Cup.

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FOOTBALL

Ginola loses “bastard” defamation case

A court in Toulon has rejected David Ginola's claim for damages against former France coach Gerard Houllier over remarks concerning Ginola's role in France's failure to reach the 1994 World Cup.

Ginola loses

A court in Toulon on Wednesday rejected David Ginola’s claim for damages against former France coach Gerard Houllier over remarks concerning Ginola’s role in France’s failure to reach the 1994 World Cup.

Houllier had referred to Ginola as a “bastard” in a book and the former Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United winger was seeking 5,000 euros ($6,600) in damages for slander and defamation.

Ginola had pledged to give the money to a sporting association.

However, the court in Toulon found that the word used by Houllier could not be assessed in isolation from its context and also that it could not qualify for both slander and defamation at the same time.

“The court accepted that there were irregularities in the citation,” said judge Didier Guissard.

As a result of their procedural concerns, the court said they had not examined the substance of the case.

During a four-hour hearing, the judge attempted to broker a reconciliation between the two men but without success.

“They took me to the gallows,” said an emotional Ginola.

“My life boils down to 10 seconds of play and 18 years later, I’m treated as a pariah. Gerard Houllier says that I’m an idiot, a bastard, and that I committed a crime against the France team.”

Ginola’s lawyer, Jean-Claude Guidicelli, told AFP that his client was “surprised” by the decision but “will not initiate further proceedings”.

“For him, this decision is a judgment of Solomon — a drawn match with the ball in the middle,” he added.

Houllier’s comments about Ginola’s role in France’s 1993 defeat by Bulgaria appeared in a book written by two journalists, Christophe Daniel and Riolo Paillet, entitled ‘Secrets des Coachs’ (Coaches’ Secrets).

Ginola was widely vilified for an over-hit cross that led to Emil Kostadinov scoring an 89th-minute goal in a 2-1 win in Paris that took Bulgaria to the 1994 World Cup at France’s expense.

Houllier had claimed that Ginola was the victim of nothing more than an unfortunate choice of words.

“I never doubted his integrity,” said the former Liverpool and Lyon coach.

“If I regret anything, it is using the word ‘crime’ in place of ‘serious mistake’. There is no acrimony.”

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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