France refuses to train after 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.

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

“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.”

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

Earlier
on Sunday, coach 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.”

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.”

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

“As a
person, you won’t find a better man in football,” he said.

“He’s
someone who’s very quiet, obviously he’s been in the game a long time, and he
knows his football. If Nico had something to say to me, I’d stand up and
listen.

“It’s
obviously the wrong decision. He’s a great player as well.”

Domenech
has now led France for a record number of matches but his six-year stint as
coach has been consistently controversial and he will be replaced by Bordeaux
boss Laurent Blanc once their World Cup is over.

That will happen on
Tuesday, unless they convincingly beat hosts South Africa in their final Group
A encounter, and Uruguay and Mexico do not draw the other match.

SStory

Evra was despondent after France’s defeat by Mexico.
Photo: File

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