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Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 09:09 UK

Nicolas Anelka laughs at 'nonsense' 18-match French ban

Nicolas Anelka
Anelka said the ban "had no relevance whatsoever"

Nicolas Anelka says he is "laughing" after being banned for 18 games by the French Football Federation (FFF) over his conduct at this summer's World Cup.

The 31-year-old Chelsea striker was sent home from South Africa after a row with coach Raymond Domenech.

"This whole thing is a nonsense, to turn the page because [new coach] Laurent Blanc needs to be able to work in peace," Anelka told France Soir.

"These people are clowns. I'm dying with laughter," he added.

Anelka said the suspension "has no relevance whatsoever" because as far as he is concerned, his international career finished when he was thrown out of training on 19 June.


"The whole commission thing is a charade not to lose face," he added.

Anelka's team-mates refused to train after the row, which led to the team finishing bottom of their group with just one goal and one point in three matches.

The president of the French Federation resigned over what he called the "fiasco" and a government inquiry was launched into the whole affair.

New coach Blanc suspended all 23 members of the World Cup squad for his first game in charge, against Norway earlier this month, and three of those players have been handed further bans for their part in events in South Africa.

Manchester United's Patrice Evra was captain of the team and has been banned for five matches for his involvement in the revolt.

Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery has been suspended for three and Jeremy Toulalan of Lyon for one.

Barcelona's Eric Abidal was also summoned to Tuesday's FFF disciplinary hearing but escaped punishment.

The quintet were highlighted as the key players in the embarrassing controversy which surrounded the French team at the World Cup following Anelka's outburst at Domenech during the loss to Mexico which saw him banished.

Evra and Ribery were summoned for not performing their duties properly as captain and vice-captain, while Toulalan was seen as the perpetrator behind a statement read out by Domenech explaining why the players had refused to train.

Abidal's offence was his refusal to play in the final group match against South Africa, which France lost 2-1.

France in turmoil after training row

France were also beaten 2-0 by Mexico following a goalless draw in their opening fixture against Uruguay as they produced a string of poor performances which saw them exit the competition following the group stages.

Anelka did not show up at the disciplinary hearing and his international career now appears to be all but over.

Ribery was also an absentee but his club Bayern Munich did not allow him to attend with the Bundesliga starting its season this weekend and the German champions facing Wolfsburg in their opening game on Friday.

The pair sent representatives, while Evra, Toulalan and Abidal were present for the lengthy hearing, along with Domenech.

Former deputy managing director of the team Jean-Louis Valentin said: "I sensed that the players are truthfully sorry, and been left damaged and mortified at what took place, they were conscious of a collective meltdown.

"I believe that now it is imperative we turn the page and move on.

"I believe that to a certain extent there has been a very good dialogue in there (at the commission) which lasted a relatively long time.

"As a lover of the French team, and as a supporter of the France team, I think that each player has the right to a second chance."

The French players' union (UNFP) stated that the punishment meted out to the players had been disproportionate, suggesting they had paid the price for Domenech's failings.

"Because they are disproportionate, the sanctions have no value. Instead, they will impede the progress of Laurent Blanc," a UNFP statement said.

"The officials who voted for Raymond Domenech to stay in the job in 2008 went unpunished even though everyone knows that they were the real culprits."

However, the FFF has also withheld World Cup advertising bonuses which were due to be paid to players.

Blanc will now be without the banned players for the team's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, starting against Belarus in Paris on 3 September.

Mexico's Javier Hernandez

Highlights - France 0-2 Mexico

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see also
France World Cup squad suspended
23 Jul 10 |  Football
Dunne mocks French World Cup exit
23 Jul 10 |  Football
Blanc appointed new France boss
02 Jul 10 |  Internationals
Henry calls end to France career
15 Jul 10 |  Football
Anelka reveals depth of tensions
15 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
French government in finals probe
25 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
French chief quits after 'fiasco'
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Anelka sent home for coach insult
19 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010

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