Football: French coach resigns after final failure

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GERARD HOULLIER announced his resignation as France's coach yesterday, following his side's exit from the 1994 World Cup. Houllier, under heavy pressure since his team failed to make next year's finals in the United States, said he had wanted to resign immediately but waited a week because of 'the intense emotion' of the game against Bulgaria.

'Only 15 seconds out of 90 minutes turned everything upside down,' he said. Needing only a draw, France conceded a last minute goal to lose 2-1.

No successor was named by the presidents of the federation, Jean Fournet-Fayard, and the French league, Noel Le Graet. 'I have spoken with them,' Houllier said, 'and it seemed essential that my successor should be a new man in a climate of calm and serenity.'

A proposal to slim down the European Cup will be heard by Uefa's executive committee next week. The current competition with 32 clubs could be reduced by half, with selection based on recent performances.

A Uefa spokesman said: 'I must stress this is just one proposal among others to ensure that the stronger clubs are adequately represented in the competition.'

At the moment, the remaining eight teams after two rounds are split into two groups of four playing each other home and away in the Champions League. Each group winner plays one match at home against the second-placed side from the other group to determine the finalists.

If accepted by the executive committee, it would mean that Uefa has finally yielded to steady pressure from some powerful club bosses who have long demanded a 'super-league'.