Sarkozy steps into France's Anelka row

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The Independent Football

The president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has asked his sports minister Roselyne Bachelot to meet with the key people involved in the bitter national team row which has wrecked their World Cup chances.

The French Football Federation sent home striker Nicolas Anelka after a foul-mouthed rant at team coach Raymond Domenech, and the French players, led by team captain Patrice Evra, refused to train in protest at the decision to expel the Chelsea forward.

Now Sarkozy has asked Mme Bachelot to intervene.

She told TFI television: "We are taking note of the indignation of the French people and...calling for dignity and responsibility.

"It's not yet the right time to take disciplinary action but that time will come very soon."

Economy minister Christine Lagarde, who represented her country as a synchronised swimmer, told LCI television: "I am appalled. I am appalled because I have worn the French national colours as you know, and when you wear the French national colours you have added responsibilities.

"The first (responsibility) is to be the best possible in sport, but also to be exemplary because you are watched. There are young children, young adolescents who practise the sport and look to you as an example."