Sarkozy: Jeers should have stopped France match

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The Independent Football

The French prime minister said today that a friendly match between Tunisia and France should have been stopped after some fans jeered the French national anthem as it was played before the game.

President Nicolas Sarkozy called a meeting for this afternoon with France's sports minister and the head of the football federation following the "scandalous incidents" at the stadium, his office said in a statement.

Many Tunisia fans displayed their national flag, chanted "Tunisia, Tunisia," and booed when French players' names were read out before Tuesday's match.

"It's not easy playing at home and getting jeered." France captain Thierry Henry said:

France, a former colonial ruler of Tunisia, has many residents of North African descent. Tunisia fans appeared to largely outnumber French fans at the stadium north of Paris. France went on to win the match 3-1.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said he was disappointed that France's football federation didn't halt Tuesday's match at Stade de France and said those who whistle at national anthems like "La Marseillaise" must be barred from seeing the match.

"It's insulting for France, for the players on the French team," he told RTL Radio. "Matches should be stopped whenever national anthems, whichever ones they are, get whistled at.

"It's a lack of consideration and respect for an entire nation."

Brice Hortefeux, the minister of immigration and national identity, agreed that the match should have been suspended, calling the whistles "a stupid act, and committed by imbeciles."

Noel Le Graet, the vice president of the French Football Federation, said on RTL that "bringing men together is always stronger than the whistles," and that it would have been a mistake to suspend the match.

In 2001, the first friendly between France and Algeria was stopped midway through the second half after hundreds of fans invaded the field as France was leading 4-1. Others chanted "Algeria, Algeria" from the stands.