Marseille: Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas on Friday gave a limited apology to a journalist from a local newspaper who he threatened and struck after a defeat earlier in the week.
On Wednesday, after his team lost 2-1 in a Ligue 1 game in Rennes, Villas-Boas approached the journalist from Marseille-based La Provence, gave him “two unfriendly claps on the shoulder” and threatened him, according to witnesses.
On Thursday, the newspaper published an article headlined: “When Villas-Boas insults and threatens one of our journalists.” On Friday, the former Tottenham, Chelsea and Zenit St Petersburg coach offered an apology at his press conference. “I had a reaction that I regret,” said Villas-Boas.
“The substance of my thought has not changed, but I understand that the way I expressed it provoked your criticism, which is fair. Freedom of expression is one of the most precious human rights. I don’t have a problem with the press or with criticism, but I had a bad experience with two articles that, for me, attacked my dignity and integrity as a professional and as a person. I had a reaction that a person cannot have, I regret it and I am ready to apologise to the journalist.”
Marseille struggled again in the Champions League this season and the journalist had written that this continued a career pattern for Villas Boas and that his results in the competition were “not brilliant”. That had drawn complaints from the Portuguese coach at earlier press conferences, on one occasion lamenting that the writer was not in the room.
On Wednesday morning, La Provence published another article on the subject. That evening, Villas-Boas approached the journalist after his brief press conference.
“Thank you. Keep it up, I’ll get you,” he reportedly said after striking the journalist on the shoulder. “If I’m lucky enough to get you ... keep on like this, that’s fine.”
The dispute continued in the stadium car park. According to another witness, Villas-Boas approached the journalist and “insulted him in Portuguese”. Ricardo Carvalho, Villas-Boas’ deputy, separated the two men.