Au revoir: France boycotts Cup practice


KNYSNA, South Africa — A draw, a loss, a tantrum and now chaos for Les Bleus.

France’s World Cup team refused to train Sunday in protest of striker Nicolas Anelka’s expulsion from the squad, prompted by a profanity-laced tirade against coach Raymond Domenech the day before.

The latest round of turbulence also led to the resignation of France team director Jean-Louis Valentin, who said he was fed up with the team.

“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.”

Before getting in a car, he added: “As for me, it’s over. I’m leaving the federation. I’m sickened and disgusted.”

Tensions boiled over after the team arrived at training and got off the bus to greet about 200 fans who had gathered.

Domenech, whose tactics have been questioned, stayed on the bus to talk to captain Patrice Evra. Meanwhile, fitness coach Robert Duverne was on the field putting down training cones.

After Domenech and Evra got off the bus, Evra and Duverne began to argue. Domenech tried to intervene, but Duverne stormed off, throwing his accreditation down the field.

“Everyone in the whole world is mocking us now,” winger Franck Ribery said on TV hours before training even started.

Afterward, Domenech read a statement he said was written by the players:

“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. 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 training session.”

Evra and the players, en masse, boarded the team bus and drew the curtains.

French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot said “the indignation of the French is great” and that she had spoken to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In their first two matches, 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 host South Africa, as long as Uruguay and Mexico don’t draw in the other Group A match.

Christian Teinturier, vice president of the federation, objected to Domenech remaining as coach after the European Championship two years ago when France lost out at the group stage.

‘‘We’re in another world here. French football is in a catastrophic situation,” he said

 

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