Thuram: France should ban Evra for his role in debacle

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The Independent Football

The former France defender Lilian Thuram has called on the French Football Federation (FFF) to ban current captain Patrice Evra from future international action.

The Manchester United full-back led the team in their dismal World Cup campaign in South Africa this summer and was central to the squad's refusal to train the day after Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka's exclusion for a war of words with the coach, Raymond Domenech.

After Evra confronted the fitness coach, Robert Duverne, who then stormed out of the training session and hurled his accreditation to one side, the squad retired to the team bus and left Domenech to read a statement to the press on their behalf.

Speaking after yesterday's meeting of the FFF's general council, Thuram said: "I demanded that the players be harshly punished and that Evra never returns to the France squad.

"When you are captain of the France team, you must have a responsibility to the jersey and the people. When the players shut themselves in the bus, and the fact that it was the coach who read the statement, that showed that the coach was no longer respected.

"In any group there are leaders and people who follow, and others who do not agree and do not dare say no."

Thuram won 142 caps for France and was part of the teams which won the 1998 World Cup, the European Championship two years later and the 2003 Confederations Cup. He also played in the 2006 World Cup final and, at club level, won two Serie A titles with Juventus and a Uefa Cup and an Italian Cup with Parma.

Laurent Blanc was officially appointed as France coach yesterday with the mission to restore the team's pride after their disastrous performance in South Africa.

The 44-year-old, a prominent member of France's 1998 World Cup-winning squad, replaces Raymond Domenech, whose contract ended with France's group stage exit from the 2010 finals. Blanc's task will be to qualify for the 2012 European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine, and help them make a fresh start after the World Cup debacle.

The former defender, who coached Bordeaux to the 2009 Ligue 1 title, was appointed during a council meeting of the French Football Federation in Paris.

The FFF president, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, formally handed in his resignation at the meeting, having said on Monday he would quit after the federation was blamed for the way it handled the player revolt in South Africa.

"I have decided to resign because it is my duty," Escalettes told a news conference. "I accept my share of responsibility."

Domenech's six-year tenure ended in shame when France left the tournament with a point and a goal after the scandal involving players boycotting a training session in support of striker Anelka, who was sent home for insulting the coach.

"Raymond Domenech has humbly admitted that he had made mistakes and so have I," said Escalettes, who had faced criticism for leaving the controversial Domenech in charge after the side's Euro 2008 flop, when they went out in the first round following two defeats and a draw.

The 75-year-old Escalettes and Domenech's lack of authority was exposed when they failed to convince the players they should train at their base in Knysna, Western Cape.

"It was my responsibility to make the players get out of the coach and train and I failed," Escalettes said. "I felt humiliated. I am ashamed and I present my apologies to all those who loved and believed in that France team and to the whole world." A caretaker FFF president will be named at a council meeting on 23 July and will stay in charge until an election is organised later this year. France have plenty of rebuilding to do after the team looked lost on the pitch in South Africa and tarnished their reputation with bickering and scandals off it.

"All my life I tried to give another image than the one I am leaving and I feel sad," Escalettes said. "My successor will have to draw the conclusions from what happened to make sure it never happens again."

Blanc, a prolific player both at international and club levels, has already enjoyed success in his coaching career with Bordeaux.

Nicknamed "The President" for his calm authority in his playing days, he will initially be more respected than the controversial Domenech, if only for his far more impressive CV.

"I believe in Laurent Blanc and in the team he will come up with," Escalettes said.

The debate on who should run the France team is not over, with a growing discrepancy between the FFF, in charge of amateur football and the national side, and the French Football League (LFP), responsible for the professional game.

"The only dignified and responsible attitude would be for the members of the federal council [of the FFF] to resign collectively," the LFP president, Frédéric Thiriez, who is also an FFF vice-president, told reporters just before yesterday's meeting.