Romario, Baggio, Benzema & the biggest squad selection snubs in World Cup history

Probably one of the most infamous and controversial snubs on this list. Despite some typically virtuosic displays for Arsenal, Robert Pires was left out of three consecutive France squads in the build-up to the World Cup by then-manager Raymond Domenech.

The pair had clashed the previous autumn, with Pires openly admitting that Domenech and ‘his attitudes, his words and his remarks annoyed him’.

The winger was subsequently left out of Les Bleus’ plans ahead of the tournament, with Pires resigned to staying at home by the time March rolled around.

“This is no surprise, to be honest,” Pires told L’Equipe at the time, as quoted by The Guardian. “What can I say? Obviously the national coach does not care about my performances. He has made his choice and I am clearly not part of it.”

That wasn’t the end of the story, though.

Sensational rumours swirled that Domenech based his team selections on astrology, and he had avoided Pires on account of him being a Scorpio.

The coach would finally address those claims in his book in 2016, insisting that Pires was overlooked for a perceived slide in form and because his attitude might prove divisive.

He wrote, as quoted by The Guardian: “I studied all the techniques of communication, transactional analysis and so on. I also studied astrology and graphology. If I had said ‘I’m doing graphology’ no one would have picked up on it because it has a scientific side.

“But astrology has a mystical side and as soon as I mentioned it people started thinking I wear a wizard’s hat on my head and gaze into crystal balls. Astrology has a value in finding out about people’s character. Not in predicting the future or anything like that, but in working out people’s profile.

“I said to myself: ‘It’s true that you can’t manage different people in the same way so you have to try to figure out how best to proceed.’ So that’s all I used it for. I never used it for selecting players for France. Never.”

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