Domenech condemns `unspeakably stupid` strike

Bloemfontein: France coach
Raymond Domenech on Monday described the French players`
refusal to train in protest at Nicolas Anelka`s expulsion from
the World Cup squad as "unspeakably stupid".

Domenech also said he fully supported the decision taken
by the French Football Federation (FFF) to banish the
controversial Chelsea star as punishment for his foul-mouthed
outburst at the coach during the 2-0 defeat to Mexico.

"First of all I would like to say that the sanction
against Nicolas Anelka is justified. I support the federation
in this decision," Domenech told reporters in Bloemfontein
ahead of Tuesday`s clash with South Africa.

"Nobody can behave in such a way in the dressing room or
elsewhere and high-level sportsmen and women have to lead by
example through football.”

"We tried to convince the players that what was happening
was irregular, that their actions were unspeakably stupid. I
told myself this masquerade had to be stopped. No way would I
back this action."

Domenech was appearing alone at the team`s pre-match
press conference with skipper Patrice Evra nowhere to be seen.

The Manchester United defender had been at the centre of
Sunday`s drama when the squad refused to train at their base
in Knysna.

Evra then had a shouting match with fitness coach Robert
Duverne before the scheduled session, leading Domenech to
intervene. A furious Duverne stormed off and threw his
stopwatch across the pitch in frustration, in full view of TV

The players` mutiny prompted top FFF official Jean-Louis
Valentin to resign, saying he was "disgusted" by the players.

Domenech read out a statement from the players expressing
their opposition to the decision to kick Anelka out and said
they deplored the way the dressing room bust-up between him
and Domenech had been revealed by sports daily L`Equipe on

Defending his decision to read out the players` words,
Domenech told reporters Monday: "The French people had a right
to know what was happening" but he said he regretted not
distancing himself from the statement.

When asked why he was speaking to reporters on his own,
Domenech offered only a cryptic reply, demanding acceptable
behaviour from his captain on the pitch.

"All I expect of the players and what the French people
are expecting of them is not excuses and more words but
behaviour and results on the pitch," he said.

To squeeze into the last 16, France must defeat South
Africa by a wide margin and hope that the game between Uruguay
and Mexico does not end in a stalemate.

Bureau Report

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