An attempt by the France coach, Raymond Domenech to temper national grief with personal joy on prime time television drew a furious response from the French media yesterday.
As he was questioned about France's ignominious exit from Euro 2008 after a 2-0 defeat by Italy, Domenech turned towards the camera and announced to millions of crestfallen viewers that he had decided to propose to his long-time partner, Estelle Deni
"My only thoughts from now on are about getting married to Estelle. I would like to ask for her hand," said Domenech, who has been widely criticised for the poor performances of the France team.
A series of French news and sports websites hit on the same mocking headline yesterday – "A wedding and a funeral" – to express their disapproval of Domenech's timing.
The newspaper Le Parisien said that the national coach has imposed a scene from "reality television, trash television" on viewers desperately disappointed by the France performance. Libération said that the moment was "so pathetic" that the only possible response was – in English – "No Comment".
Domenech, 56, has lived with Denis, 31, a television presenter, for several years. They have two children. The national coach, a defensive hardman for Lyons and France in the 1970s, has a somewhat flaky reputation. He revealed before the 2006 World Cup that he selected his squads partly on the basis of his players' star signs.
After a miserable performance in Euro 2008 – two defeats and a draw and a goal difference of minus five – Domenech is not expected to retain his job for long. Didier Deschamps, the former Juventus and Monaco manager and captain of the France team who won the World Cup in 1998, is widely tipped to replace him.
Asked about his touch-line wedding proposal at a later press conference, Domenech said that he had intended to provide a "gimmer of light on a cloudy night". He admitted, however, that he had made a " communication error".
He claimed he should have dwelled on the talent of the young players in the France squad and pointed out that Euro 2008 was just the "preparation of a new generation for the (2010) World Cup."