In the French football team, the train doesn't just pass once. Jean-Clair Todibo can attest to this. The 23-year-old defender, in turmoil during the last Blues rally for a “nervous laugh” during a minute of silence, was recalled by Didier Deschamps. He even progressed in the hierarchy in central defense, passing Axel Disasi. And claims a place in the eleven which will start the match against Gibraltar on Saturday in Nice (8:45 p.m.). A nice home gift for the Gym player.
Arriving on the sly at the beginning of October to replace the injured William Saliba, he took his place on the bench in Amsterdam for Netherlands-France. During the minute of silence dedicated to the victims of the conflict in Israel and Gaza, as well as to Dominique Bernard, the professor killed in Arras, Todibo was filmed laughing. Heavily criticized on social networks, asked to explain himself before the National Ethics Council of the FFF, the native of Cayenne (Guyana) finally came to defend himself in front of the press.
“The interpretation of the situation is quite crazy. I don't think I'm a disrespectful guy when it comes to these things. The case was serious, he confided, on the verge of tears. In no way was I making fun of the current situation. The context was quite special, in the stands we were among the opposing supporters. Some made certain jokes and I had a nervous laugh. I wanted to apologize to everyone I may have offended with this nervous laugh.”
The former Toulouse and FC Barcelona defender felt the need to “come and express yourself rather than doing it via a press release”, because “it has more weight to come and do it in person rather than behind a screen ". An approach welcomed by Didier Deschamps, who appreciated the fact that his player took responsibility for the press. “It took on significant dimensions, he is affected by what followed this attitude. He apologized to me, it's not an attitude to have at that moment, said the coach, wanting to move on. He then confirmed that Jean-Clair Todibo remained available to the group.
The fact remains that the person concerned once again remained on the bench a few days later against Scotland (4-1 victory), in Lille. “There is no punishment on my part,” the coach brushed off at a press conference, before admitting that “when in doubt, it is better to avoid in an evening like that… There are two or three who could have whistled or something.”
Jean-Clair Todibo could well have seen his selection counter blocked at one (in a friendly against Germany, 2-1 defeat). But Didier Deschamps is not the type to hold grudges. It is not Adrien Rabiot and Kingsley Coman who will say the opposite. The first had declined, via an open letter, his status as a reservist at the 2018 World Cup played in Russia. The second had refused to come out during the round of 16 lost against Switzerland, at Euro 2021, while he was injured. Both now have an indisputable place in the France group.
There is also the case of Karim Benzema, who returned to the French team almost six years after the famous sex tape affair. The duration is a little longer, but here too, Didier Deschamps ended up forgiving. Jean-Clair Todibo did not have to worry for very long. Especially since on a purely sporting level, his selection is entirely deserved.
The former Toulousain is one of the captains of OGC Nice, who made a great start in Ligue 1 with 7 victories in 12 matches. Le Gym is, by far, the best defense in the championship. Only 4 small goals conceded. If Francesco Farioli's men maintain this level over the long term, Jean-Clair Todibo could well be part of the list for Euro 2024, in Germany (June 14-July 14). Far, very far from any controversy.