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France defender Todibo apologises for laughing during pre-match silence

The France defender Jean-Clair Todibo has apologised after television cameras captured him laughing during a silence before the match against the Netherlands on Friday.

The Nice defender was among the substitutes for the game in Amsterdam. A silence was observed for the victims of the Israel-Hamas conflict and the teacher killed in a knife attack in northern France last week.

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Before France’s routine pre-match media conference for their friendly with Scotland on Tuesday, Todibo addressed the press. “Unfortunately the way this has been interpreted is just crazy,” he said. “I do not think I am disrespectful. It is just an incredible situation. There was nervous laughter during the silence but in no way did I mean to make fun of what is going on.

“We were in the middle of the fans and some of those fans cracked jokes. I laughed nervously. I want to apologise for the nervous laughter but in no way was I being disrespectful towards the situation or what is going on.”

Todibo, who declared himself ready to face Scotland, said he felt strongly about speaking about the incident in person rather than releasing a statement. “Some people said I was making fun of the teacher. My mum works as a teacher so I have a lot of respect. It could have been my mum. This gives an image that is not mine. It is not me.”

Reports in France had suggested the country’s football federation had urged Todibo to explain himself. France’s manager, Didier Deschamps, said of the 23-year-old’s media appearance: “It was his wish. He apologised to me. It is not something he should be doing at that moment but it is always good to say something in your own words so he wanted to come and talk. It is not an easy situation for him but he is still available for the match.”

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