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Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Monday, 21 June 2010 19:57 UK

World Cup 2010: France stars 'may boycott match'


France in turmoil after training row

France coach Raymond Domenech has said some of his players may refuse to face South Africa because of Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad.

The Chelsea striker was sent home for verbally abusing Domenech during last week's 2-0 defeat by Mexico.

When asked whether some of his squad might not play on Tuesday, the coach said: "It is a possibility."

Domenech also labelled the players' decision to boycott Sunday's training session as "an aberration".

They refused to take part in protest at Anelka's expulsion, in a situation that has escalated to such an extent the French government have felt the necessity to intervene.

I told them [the players] they could no longer be heroes for our children. They have destroyed the dreams of their countrymen, their friends and supporters.

Roselyne Bachelot

The forward was said to have abused Domenech at half-time during France's second group game, which led to the 31-year-old being substituted.

Anelka later refused to apologise when asked to do so by French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes.

As a consequence, a statement was issued by the FFF stating that Anelka had been excluded from the squad, a measure supported by Domenech.

"Nobody can behave in such a way in the dressing room or elsewhere and high-level sportsmen and women have to lead by example through football," he added.

The boycott of training led to FFF's managing director Jean-Louis Valentin quitting his post.

France captain Evra was also involved in a heated argument with fitness coach Robert Duverne prior to the scheduled session, which required the intervention of Domenech.

Carlos Alberto Parreira

Parreira unconcerned by France troubles

Sports minister Roselyne Bachelot revealed an official investigation would be conducted into the incident after the tournament.

Acting on the instructions of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Bachelot confronted the players and then held an impromptu media briefing at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

"The government has had to intervene as the reputation at France is at stake in this case," said Bachelot.

"I told the players they had tarnished the image of France," she commented. "It is a morale disaster for French football.

"I told them they could no longer be heroes for our children. They have destroyed the dreams of their countrymen, their friends and supporters."


Bachelot also revealed that the players "applauded me and they were crying" after her speech, during which she asked them "How would you like people to remember you and what image do you want to leave behind?"

According to a senior FFF official, the squad's training boycott was prompted by several players.

"The three or four leaders are players past their prime who will never play a World Cup again," FFF general secretary Henri Monteil told French daily newspaper La Charente Libre.

Later on Sunday, the French coach read out a statement on behalf of the players but was keen to add that he had not supported the boycott.

"We had to do something - the French people had a right to know," added Domenech.

"What I should have said at the end of the message was that I did not support this action.

"With the FFF president and staff members, we tried to convince them it was stupid. I disagreed with the document. What they were doing was unthinkable.

"We've wasted a lot of energy. There are no words to explain what has happened. I'm hoping we will now have action on the pitch rather than off it."

France are on the verge of making an early World Cup exit, having picked up only one point from two games.

They need to beat South Africa on Tuesday by a large score and hope that Uruguay and Mexico do not draw their match.

Players 'like seven-year-olds who don't respect the teacher', says French fan

Meanwhile, in France, the national media have largely condemned the players' actions.

French sports paper L'Equipe wrote: "A rebellion? No, a caprice. A strike? No, cowardliness. Don't deceive yourself. The republican solidarity that our players showed the world yesterday is an illusion.

"Evra has once and for all shown that he has muddled up the role of captain with that of a gang leader.

"Domenech, by lending a hand to this masquerade and reading out himself the players' statement, has missed his final opportunity to show some style and courage."

Newspaper Le Figaro added: "It is collective suicide... the French team has heaped ridicule on itself in front of the whole world at Knysna.

"It was almost hallucinatory. This is a psychodrama that will go down in the history of the World Cup. The French team has been reduced to ashes."

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see also
France players return to training
21 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
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
French fan on 'big-headed' team
21 Jun 10 |  Europe

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