Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Trouble in the French camp

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KNYSNA – France’s World Cup team refused to train yesterday in protest against Nicolas Anelka’s expulsion from the squad.Anelka was kicked off the team for a profanity-laced tirade against coach Raymond Domenech, whose tactics and management skills have been called into question.After the team refused to train, Domenech read a statement written by the players explaining their protest.“The French Football Federation did not at any time try to protect the group. They took a decision uniquely based on facts reported by the press,” Domenech read from the statement. “As a consequence and to show our opposition to the decision taken by officials of the federation, all the players decided not to take part in today’s [yesterday’s] training session.”The latest chaotic scene also led to the resignation of France team director Jean-Louis Valentin.“It’s a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It’s a scandal for the federation and the French team,” Valentin said. “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,” said Valentin, who walked away from the training field, got into a car and drove off.The team arrived at training as usual yesterday and got off the bus to greet fans, but Domenech and France captain Patrice Evra stayed on the bus longer to talk.When Domenech and Evra finally disembarked, fitness coach Robert Duverne was on the field putting down training cones. Evra then got into an argument with Duverne and Domenech walked over to intervene. Duverne then stormed off, throwing his accreditation badge to the ground.
Evra then handed a letter to the press officer, and the players, en masse, boarded the team bus and drew the curtains. The bus left the area shortly after Domenech’s speech, by which time most of the 200 fans were already walking away.“Out of respect for the people who came to watch the training session, we decided to go to meet these supporters,” Domenech said, reading the statement. “Each of us will do all he can, of course, but also in a collective sense, to ensure that the French team gets its honour back on Tuesday night with a good performance at last.”In their first two matches at the World Cup, France drew 0-0 with Uruguay and then lost 2-0 to Mexico. France can still advance to the round of 16 with a win over hosts South Africa, as long as Uruguay and Mexico don’t draw in the other Group “A” match.Christian Teinturier, vice president of the FFF, was stunned by what happened. He had objected to Domenech carrying on as coach of France after the European Championship two years ago, when France went out at the group stage.“I confess that I understand nothing,” he said. “We’re in another world here. French football is in a catastrophic situation.” (AP)

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