SOUTH AFRICA – One team’s turmoil has threatened its progression at the World Cup!
France qualified for the World Cup on a controversial call. Thierry Henry’s double handball, which referees failed to see, saw France through to the tournament at the expense of Ireland. It seems only fitting that “Les Bleus” are falling apart and on the verge of being eliminated as many feel as though they never should have been included in the field of 32 teams.
France managed a lifeless and uninspired draw against Uruguay in their opening match which caused French legend Zinedine Zidane disappointment. French supporters called and clamored for something more in their next match against Mexico and what they got left much to be desired. France went out and got outplayed by the Mexicans and suffered a humbling 2-0 loss. That might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
French striker Nicolas Anelka found himself on his way home Saturday evening after being thrown off the team by French coach Raymond Domenech. Anelka’s expulsion was punishment for his profanity-laced tirade against Domenech following the defeat to Mexico.
A day after Anelka’s expulsion, France’s turmoil rose to the surface again. A training ground argument between French captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne had to be broken up by Domenech. Immediately after, the team refused to train and proceeded to board the team bus as a protest for Anelka being thrown off the team. To make matters worse, team director Jean-/louis Valentin gave his resignation Sunday.
“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,” Valentin added, who walked away from the training field, got into a car and drove off.
After the fallout, Domenech read a letter from Evra and the players to the press saying that they were boycotting training in support of Anelka, who reportedly announced his international retirement after his dismissal.
With this much turmoil surrounding the French, it remains to be seen what kind of performance they will manage against host country South Africa in their upcoming match. Given the current state of affairs, it would come as a surprise if the French were to manage to qualify for the next round.