Monday, November 06, 2006

Sunshine Boy Turns Dark

Pedro Pauleta, the Portuguese captain and centre-forward of Paris Saint-Germain, a man lethal from two yards and particularly lethal against defences as ropey as those in France's Ligue 1, but not so much against better sides, was sent off last week for a kick on a Rennes player in a 1-0 win. Pauleta, who is known by the grandiose nickname 'The Eagle of the Azores' in French footballing circles, was not only booked twice in the space of sixty seconds, thereby occasioning his expulsion, but also allegedly called lineswoman Nellie Lagrange, the only female official in French proffessional football 'une pouffiasse', an insult that can be broadly translated as 'slut'.

Pauleta pleads innocence, claiming that, in seven years living in France, he has neither ever used this insult nor does he even know what it means. If his post-match interviews are anything to go by, Pauleta speaks quite good French and being exposed to the dressing room atmosphere at the Parc des Princes, it is unlikely that an epithet such as 'pouffiasse' might have slipped by him completely.