France World Cup squad handed one-match ban
Saturday 24 July 2010
Laurent Blanc, the new France manager, has taken the unprecedented step of suspending all 23 players who made up the World Cup squad for his first game in charge, a friendly against Norway next month, because of their part in Les Bleus' chaotic campaign in South Africa.
Blanc, who took over from Raymond Domenech after France failed to progress beyond the group stage in South Africa, will select a squad untainted by the events at the World Cup, when the players refused to train after striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home following a heated confrontation with Domenech.
It is a show of strength from Blanc and will serve to remind the squad who is in charge after Domenech's six-year reign was undermined by poor team morale and accusations of player power.
A number of senior figures in French football had called for sanctions against the perceived ringleaders of the protest over Anelka, but Blanc proposed to exclude the whole squad at a meeting yesterday with the French Football Federation's federal council, who ratified the decision.
A FFF statement said: "Laurent Blanc was heard by the federal council, to whom he presented his staff and his sporting project. He also proposed to the federal council, who accepted, not to retain for the friendly against Norway, on Wednesday 11 August in Oslo, any of the 23 players selected for the World Cup in South Africa."
Blanc's first competitive game is a Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Belarus in September and he will expect to welcome some chastened players back into the squad. A number have expressed regret about last month's events, when fitness coach Robert Duverne resigned after they refused to train and Domenech was forced to read a statement to the press on the players' behalf.
It was Hugo Lloris's turn yesterday, the goalkeeper telling L'Equipe that the decision to strike was "completely stupid". "We acted as a team," he added. "To strike was the decision of a squad who felt lonely, who believed that no one had stood up for them and who had a message to convey. We went too far. It was a very awkward decision, a big mistake. It was completely stupid. But there were so many problems."
* Fluminense manager Muricy Ramalho was yesterday asked to take over as Brazil coach following Dunga's dismissal. Ramalho, who won three Brazilian championships with Sao Paulo from 2006 to 2008, said after a meeting with the head of the Brazil Football Confederation that he needed to speak with Fluminense officials before making a decision.
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