Domenech lays into 'imbeciles' and prepares to drop ringleaders

Preview: France v South Africa, 3pm, Bloemfontein, ITV1

After the mutiny, the backlash as the France players who had gone on strike and humiliated their own manager were turned upon by their fans, their sponsors and their coach.

Raymond Domenech, who was called "a son of a whore" by Nicolas Anelka during France's defeat to Mexico on Thursday, and was then forced by his own players to read out a statement condemning the decision to send him home, last night accused his own footballers of being "imbeciles". Zinedine Zidane, for many still the spiritual leader of French football, also attacked the refusal of the players to train on Sunday in support of Anelka while two advertising campaigns featuring the team were cancelled.

Needing to overcome a South Africa side that is scarcely more united to have any chance of taking a group of players – a team they are not – to the last 16 of the World Cup, Domenech is likely to axe some of the leading rebels, including the captain, Patrice Evra. The Manchester United defender was notably absent from the press conference in Bloemfontein yesterday and he, with Franck Ribéry, is likely to be dropped. Thierry Henry, for whom this is almost certainly his final match, may not be given a chance for a proper farewell since he was also among the ringleaders. Henry's international career began against South Africa in 1997 and now it is likely to fade away on the bench in a rugby stadium in the republic.

"On Sunday, I spent 45 minutes with them trying to convince the players of the idiocy, the imbecility and the unparalleled stupidity of what they were about to do," said Domenech last night. "With my staff and members of the French Football Federation, we tried to convince them that they could not be permitted to go on strike.

"Then I decided I had to stop this masquerade there and then and I took the piece of paper they had prepared and went out to speak to the press. I completely support the decision to send Nicolas Anelka home. Nobody can be allowed to act like this, whether it is in the dressing room or anywhere else. High-level sportsmen have a duty to set an example.

"To say the least, this game has been difficult to prepare and I am sorry. People back home no longer expect words from these players, they expect action. I have always chosen the team and I will continue to do so – and nobody will tell me how to prepare the team or who to pick."

Following the resignation of the French Football Federation's director, Jean-Louis Valentin, the support structure of the national team continued to unravel. Two of the team's leading sponsors, Credit Agricole and the Quick fast-food chain, yesterday dropped advertising campaigns featuring the players while a survey by the French sport's daily L'Equipe suggested that 81 per cent of its readers were opposed to the strike action.

You wonder how Sir Alex Ferguson, his club manager, would have dealt with Evra's mutiny, although speaking to a New York radio station, Sirius XM, the Manchester United manager said its origins lay in the loss of Domenech's authority when it was confirmed he would be replaced by Laurent Blanc after the tournament.

"France have been terrible," said Ferguson. "I think it was bad preparations for the players to know Domenech was leaving and Laurent Blanc coming in. They should have brought Blanc along as an overseer or assistant."

What to watch out for: South Africa also on the defensive

The South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena insists there is no dissent in the ranks ahead of today's vital Group A match against France. There have been reports of favouritism in Carlos Alberto Parreira's squad. But the Portsmouth defender said: "Some people are so disappointed there have not been any problems in the group. The atmosphere is the camp is incredible. I am certainly not aware of any rifts."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game