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Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Monday, 21 June 2010 11:27 UK

World Cup 2010: France players return to training

France have struggled to find any team spirit or harmony
France have struggled to find any team spirit or harmony

France players returned to training on Monday, ending their boycott in protest at the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka.

The players started some light running at 1100 local time at the Field of Dreams training complex in Knysna before a period of stretching.

The squad were then given some tactical advice during the remainder of the 25 minutes that were open to the press.

Anelka was sent home on Saturday after he verbally abused coach Raymond Domenech and then refused to apologise.

His team-mates opted to not take part in training on Sunday and the French Football Federation's (FFF) managing director subsequently quit over their actions.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has since intervened to try to defuse the situation.

Sarkozy asked French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot to extend her stay in South Africa and meet with the players, coach and FFF chief Jean-Pierre Escalettes on Monday.

We want to forget all about this catastrophe, this absolute disaster of a World Cup, the most shameful episode in the history of our football

French football journalist Philippe Auclair

The FFF has apologised to the people of France for the way their team is behaving.

It said the squad's refusal to train was unacceptable and that it would hold an inquiry once France's World Cup campaign was over.

And that could be very soon, as France are on the brink of elimination following a draw with Uruguay and a defeat by Mexico in their first two matches.

A win against hosts South Africa may not be enough to save France as Mexico and Uruguay, who play each other, need only a point each to qualify.

The end of France's participation will also bring an end to the reign of Domenech, with Laurent Blanc set to take over.

WORLD CUP PHOTO ALBUM

French football journalist Philippe Auclair feels that scenario cannot come quickly enough.

"In France, I can tell you one thing, everybody's sick and tired," he said.

"We just want to bring this era to an end and start afresh with Laurent Blanc and forget all about this catastrophe, this absolute disaster of a World Cup, the most shameful episode in the history of our football."

France legend Zinedine Zidane, who played under Domenech, believes the change in management will resolve the current issues in the team.

"I never had a problem with [Domenech] but I never had a good feeling for him," he said.

"There's a new coach in Laurent Blanc who will change all of this.

"I don't think you can blame one player or another but Laurent Blanc's arrival will change everything that is happening within the team."



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see also
Anelka row sparks player revolt
20 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
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


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