France let down by right-winger

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The Independent Online
While England bask in fiercely partisan support from public, politicians and media alike, their possible opponents in Sunday's European Championship final, France, came under attack from home yesterday as they prepared for tomorrow's semi-final against the Czech Republic at Old Trafford, writes Phil Shaw.

Aime Jacquet, the national coach, announced that he had received a fax giving details of a speech by the leader of the French National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Addressing a rally in Nimes, Le Pen derided "half France's team" as "foreigners" and complained that they did not know the words of the national anthem.

Jacquet said they were the ramblings of "a strange politician". He added: "Our duty is to the French public. They know that the red, white and blue is being well defended."

Christian Karembeu, the black midfielder who is suspended from tomorrow's match, said that all the players, despite their "very differing political views", were united in their contempt for the comments. "Le Pen is a fascist who makes these attacks to gain publicity," he said. "We don't want to help him do that. To us it is no big thing. Le Pen is always saying these things."

Christophe Dugarry, whose Euro 96 is over following a knee injury on Saturday, is to fly home for treatment at his club, Bordeaux, who have agreed his transfer to Milan. The Czechs have injury worries over midfielders Jiri Nemec and Patrik Berger.

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