Christopher Nkunku has defended his France team-mate Eduardo Camavinga after he was subjected to vile racist abuse this week.
Nkunku’s World Cup campaign came to an end before it had even begun after Real Madrid’s Camavinga lunged in and injured the Leipzig sensation in France’s final training session before travelling to Qatar.
In response to the incident, Camavinga received abuse from so-called supporters online, which lead Nkunku to defend his national team-mate and say that the World Cup is a time for ‘harmony, not division’.
In a post on his Twitter page, Nkunku wrote: ‘Yesterday evening, following medical examinations, I had to leaves Les Bleus and withdraw from the World Cup.
‘Now it’s time to work with only one objective: to come back even stronger.
‘A thought for my team-mate Eduardo Camavinga, who has been unfairly targeted. The World Cup must be a moment of harmony, not of division.
‘Thank you to all my staff and my team-mates for their support. I will be your biggest supporter. Make us proud!’
France were taking part in a final training session before the tournament at their Clairefontaine base on Tuesday, when Camavinga lunged in with a mis-timed challenge on the RB Leipzig star.
It comes as a massive blow to Les Bleus, and Nkunku, given his electric form this season. The 25-year-old has 12 goals from 15 Bundesliga appearances so far.
After the incident, the Real Madrid midfielder was targeted for his actions with a supporter replying to a video of the incident calling the 20-year-old a ‘sale singe’, which translated into English from French reads ‘dirty monkey’.
Nkunku was seen clutching onto his leg in pain and was helped off the training pitch before undergoing medical tests that would eventually doom his World Cup hopes.
Team boss Didier Deschamps called up Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani as a replacement on Wednesday mere hours before the team flew out to Qatar for the World Cup.
The world champions confirmed in a statement: ‘Didier Deschamps has decided to summon the Eintracht Frankfurt striker to replace that of RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.
‘The FIFA Medical Committee having endorsed the withdrawal of Christopher Nkunku due to injury, Didier Deschamps had the possibility of calling a player to replace him.
‘The national coach has decided to call on Randal Kolo Muani. The Eintracht Frankfurt striker, currently in Japan with his club, will join the French team in Doha on Thursday morning.’
France are in Group D for the tournament in Qatar, alongside Australia, Denmark and Tunisia. They open their campaign against Australia on Tuesday.