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Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Sunday, 20 June 2010 18:20 UK

World Cup 2010: France boycott training over Anelka row


France in turmoil after training row

France's players refused to train on Sunday following Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech.

Domenech read out a statement from his squad which said: "The French Football Federation did not at any time try to protect the group.

"To show our opposition to the decision taken [on Anelka], all the players decided not to take part in training."

The French Football Federation's managing director subsequently quit.

Moments before a public training session was about to begin, Domenech had to separate captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne.

Duverne is understood to have stormed away from an argument with the Manchester United defender, throwing his accreditation badge to the ground.

The players then left the pitch and walked to their bus where they had a meeting with Domenech behind closed curtains.

Nicolas Anelka and Raymond Domenech
Domenech (right) chose Anelka to start France's first two games

"I am disgusted, I am quitting my post," FFF managing director Jean-Louis Valentin said immediately after the incident between Evra and Duverne, before driving off in his car.

"It's a scandal for the French, for the federation and the French team.

"They don't want to train. It's unacceptable. As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted."

FFF vice-president Christian Teinturier said: "I confess that I understand nothing. We're in another world here. French football is in a catastrophic situation."

Later on Sunday, the federation distanced itself from what it called "the unacceptable behaviour of the players representing our country".

French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot said President Nicolas Sarkozy had asked her to extend her stay in South Africa and that she would meet with Evra, Domenech and FFF chief Jean-Pierre Escalettes on Monday.


"We are taking note of the indignation of the French people and... calling for dignity and responsibility," she told TFI television.

Asked whether there would be penalties for the fiasco, she said: "It's not yet the right time to take disciplinary action but that time will come very soon."

Earlier, Domenech had played down his row with Anelka and insisted the striker could have stayed with the squad had he apologised.

Anelka was sent home after insulting Domenech during the defeat by Mexico which has left France unlikely to qualify for the last 16.

"I had another chat with him and left open the possibility for him to apologise," said the 57-year-old. "[That was] something which he did not want to do."

Read the France squad's statement on their decision to boycott training

But Domenech insisted the incident could have been dealt with without such damaging repercussions, had a leak to the media not escalated the problem.

"People cannot imagine the pressure," said Domenech, who took France to the final of the last World Cup in 2006.

"We are in a dressing room, the coach says something to a player who is already under pressure, he can react angrily, and with strong words.

"He did not react in the most suitable fashion. But it was just a guy sitting in his corner and muttering - that would not have mattered had it stayed there.

"What was important was that it made the front page of a newspaper, and that exposes the internal life of the squad."

He continued: "I sorted out the problem internally, and as far as I was concerned it was done and dusted.

"[But] the decision to exclude him was the right one. I am sorry for the children for whom the French team represents something. Anelka does not have the right to say such things."

Duverne later denied he was the source of the dressing room leak, and explained his fall-out with Evra.

"He came to tell me that the players were not going to participate in training. I was angry because we play a big game in two days and we have no right to destroy our last chance."

Anelka's Chelsea team-mate John Terry, who is playing for England in South Africa, said he disagreed with the decision to send the former Arsenal and Real Madrid player home.

"As a person, you won't find a better man in football," he said. "It's obviously the wrong decision. He's a great player as well."

Domenech's six-year stint as France coach ends at this World Cup and and he will be replaced by Bordeaux boss Laurent Blanc.

His last match in charge could be on Tuesday unless his team convincingly beat hosts South Africa in their final Group A encounter, and Uruguay and Mexico do not draw the other match.

Mexico's Javier Hernandez

Highlights - France 0-2 Mexico

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see also
France squad statement in full
20 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Anelka sent home for coach insult
19 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
France need a miracle - Domenech
17 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Blanc appointed new France boss
02 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team guide: France
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
France Photo Album
28 Apr 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
France 1-1 Rep of Ire (agg 2-1)
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Domenech gives Anelka hope
12 Jul 04 |  Internationals

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