Lille have hit back at Michel Platini's suggestion that they 'didn't give a monkeys' about the Europa League and told the UEFA president to "get his facts straight."
Benfica's qualification for this season's Europa League final means Portugal have eased ahead of France and into the top five of UEFA's co-efficient ranking, meaning the third-placed team in Ligue 1 will have to play in the third qualifying round of the Champions League rather than go directly into the play-offs for a group stage place.
Platini, 57, told La Voix du Nord last week that French clubs only had themselves to blame, pointing the finger at all top-flight clubs, and Lille in particular, telling the northern France-based paper: "Instead of complaining, they just have to give their all in Europe, and notably Lille, who said at a certain time: 'We don't give a monkeys about the Europa League!'"
Lille's deputy director general Frederic Paquet responded in a press release, in which he wrote: "We well know the UEFA president likes a joke, but it would be good if he got his facts straight before he says things. I'd like to point out that during our last two Europa League campaigns, we were knocked out by two European heavyweights: Liverpool in the last 16 in 2009-10 and PSV Eindhoven in the last 32 the following season. His judgement is a bit harsh."
Paquet added that the club, who have finished bottom of their group in the Champions League in the last two seasons, did not comment on Platini's own opinions voiced as the head of European football's governing body, particularly what Paquet called "his retrograde vision of refereeing".
"Let him look after his federation, and leave us to run our club as we wish," he concluded.