RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil -- France's team doctor has criticised Bayern Munich for the way the club handled a lingering back injury that ruled star winger Franck Ribery out of the World Cup.
Ribery appeared to have made progress from a chronic lower back injury that had plagued him for weeks, only to be ruled out of the competition last Friday when he pulled up in training. It came just three days before France flew to Brazil, depriving coach Didier Deschamps of his most experienced player and most dangerous attacker.
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"When I examined him and we did tests with the X-ray and scans, I was very reassured. There was no reason why he wouldn't play in the World Cup," France doctor Franck Le Gall said Thursday. "We have some explanations for his pain. However, he didn't find a way ... we didn't find the way for his pains to cease or for him to play through his discomfort."
Ribery, who has scored 16 goals in 81 appearances for France, made his last appearance of the season for Bayern as a substitute in the German Cup final win over Borussia Dortmund on May 17, when he came on in the first half and was substituted during extra time.
Ribery had been rested following the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League semifinal on April 29, and Le Gall thinks it was too risky for Ribery to play in the Cup final less than three weeks later.
"He was out for more or less three weeks and played a match which he probably shouldn't have played because he played through pain," Le Gall said. He said when Ribery joined up with the France team at their World Cup training camp he "was just as much bothered" by the injury as before.
Bayern "didn't manage to solve the problem in (those) three weeks," said Le Gall, who estimated that Ribery should be ready to play by mid-August.
Le Gall was asked if France had considered treating Ribery's injury by injection. It was an option that appeared to be ruled out by the France team's medical staff, even though, Le Gall said, Bayern could be regularly treating their players with jabs.
"Franck belongs to a club where for all pathological treatments -- twisted ankles, bruising, muscle pains, contractions, tears -- there are injections," Le Gall said. "There are 10 per pathology (injury), or 20, 25, 40 per year, or more. So there comes a time when, well ... [Ribery] has had enough of injections. If for a moment we thought it could be solved that way, we didn't do it, because he's scared of injections."