In his new autobiography, Olivier Giroud reveals that he didn’t sign for Olympique Lyonnais in January because the Ligue 1 club is synonymous with Karim Benzema.
Unfortunately, it’s the cruel truth. I have to come to terms with this. From a football standpoint, I could have taken it on without any problem.
But I didn’t want to take the slightest risk for my family or cause inconvenience outside football to that, when I saw how some reacted.
– Giroud on why he didn’t join Lyon
The context: there is a petit feud between the pair that goes back to Giroud being a part of France’s World Cup-winning squad in 2018. Benzema was not a part of that – he has not played for the national team since 2015, frozen out as part of the fallout from the Mathieu Valbuena sex tape scandal – and he clearly rates himself the superior player (which he is, to be fair).
The feud crystalised earlier this year when Benzema was asked to rate Giroud, and he answered with magnificent bitterness and spite: “You don’t confuse F1 with go-karting. And I’m being kind. Next [question] … and I know I’m F1.”
You could see Giroud’s snub of OL as petty, but he claims it was to protect himself and his family – Benzema is still very much a favourite son of Lyon. And it’s pretty clear that Benzema is the one with the grudge – not even against Giroud as much as the French FA, which is still blocking him from a return to France set-up.
In football, no one feuds like the French. The Dutch, maybe. But the French do it with such panache.