Patrice Evra, who was dropped as France captain during the World Cup, acknowledged the squad's walkout from a training session at the tournament was a fiasco and apologized on behalf of the players.
Evra, in an interview broadcast Friday by TV network TF1, said "the wound is open and we all are hurting right now" -- but insisted the team needs to move on.
Evra said the players wanted to show solidarity with striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home from South Africa after insulting the coach in a profanity-laced tirade reported by French media and later worldwide.
"In such conditions, sometimes you can make clumsy gestures out of love," Evra said of the practice walkout on Sunday, adding it was a "group decision."
Two days later, the 1998 world champion was eliminated in the group stage after two losses and a draw.
"There was this fiasco, and we are really sorry and devastated, but you have to lift your head up and see the future," Evra said.
He wasn't alone among France players who took to the airwaves to explain the team's actions, which caused consternation and embarrassment among fans and politicians alike in France.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to personally investigate the matter, and a parliamentary panel has summoned the sports minister and the French Football Federation chief for hearings Tuesday and Wednesday.
Former France captain Thierry Henry, the country's all-time leading scorer, said disputes in the changing rooms happen in football -- but the leak about Anelka's blowup to the press made this case different.
"Unfortunately, it happens in the changing room," Henry told Canal Plus in an interview aired Friday. "The difference is: it got out, and when it did, it took another dimension."
Still, Henry realized the walkout wasn't the right decision.
"It's true, looking back, when you see the consequences it caused, you can say it was an error," he said.
Henry, at 32 among the team's leading veterans, also said he felt "cast aside" on the squad and wasn't listened to like he once was.