Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier has hit back at claims he is a racist, calling the journalist who made the allegation "an imbecile".
In an article published on an Algerian football website, Le Buteur, it was alleged Galtier had not picked left-back Faouzi Ghoulam because the French-born defender had opted to play for Algeria, the country of his family's origin, and that "at Saint-Etienne, it's not always good to be Algerian and Muslim".
"I read an article about me this morning, written by a journalist of a magazine called Le Buteur in Algeria in which he calls me a racist," Galtier explained to the media at Thursday's official presentation of new signing Mevlut Erding. "I want to speak to the cameras because I think he's going to be watching me: Sir, you are an imbecile and incompetent.
"I'm not a racist and never have been. And if I were, I would be stupid given my own origins. So I repeat: Sir, you are an imbecile and incompetent. I feel insulted and attacked. So as you insult me, I respond with an insult, and that one is a nice one."
Ghoulam, who attracted interest from Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers and Torino over the summer, featured 26 times in Ligue 1 last season, but has not played a single minute of competitive football for Les Verts this campaign.
Disappointed by the player's determination to leave the club, with whom he is under contract till 2016, Galtier banished Ghoulam from first-team training in early August, while club president Roland Romeyer even stated that if the full-back stayed "he would play in the reserve team."
However, following a recent face-to-face meeting between Galtier and Ghoulam, the club confirmed he would return to first-team training last Monday.
"The player apologised, and expressed sincere regret concerning his behaviour and committed himself to displaying the values of the club," an official statement released last weekend read. "The defender also spoke to coach Christophe Galtier, and reaffirmed his desire to give everything for the club where he has come through the youth academy."