France's World Cup team refuses to train
France's World Cup team is refusing to train to protest the exclusion of striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home for declining to apologise after he insulted his coach Raymond Domenech.
France's disastrous World Cup campaign was plunged into fresh chaos on Sunday when the team refused to train in protest at the decision to send home French striker Nicolas Anelka.
"All the players in the French squad without exception wish to affirm their opposition to the decision taken by the French Football Federation to exclude Nicolas Anelka," said a statement released by the team's players.
During the half-time of France’s disastrous match against Mexico in Group A, Anelka exploded when Raymond Domenech asked him to play in a different fashion. His insults were reported in the French sports daily L’Equipe and have been sending shockwaves through the French press.
Domenech downplayed the nature of the remarks on Sunday but added that the incident was important because it was made public.
"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," said Domenech in an interview with the French channel TF1.
"What was important was that it made the front page of a newspaper, and that exposes the internal life of the squad.
Domenech, whose popularity has plummeted since he unexpectedly guided them to the penalty shootout loss to Italy in the 2006 World Cup final, faces a sad end to his reign.
France playmaker Franck Ribery has said that he was more concerned by who had leaked the story and not what Anelka had said.
"A traitor revealed too much information, it would help to know who it was," the Bayern Munich star said.
French newspapers were quick to comment on the incident. French weekly, Le journal du Dimanche, writes “the Anelka affair has devasted French football,” and publishes a scathing interview of French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut.
He accuses French players of refusing to embody the French nation and of acting “like sulking, and spoilt brats”.