Paris: The French press poured scorn on the
World Cup squad on Monday saying their refusal to train in
protest at the decision to send home striker Nicolas Anelka
had shamed the whole country.
If the French squad in South Africa thought they would
garner sympathetic headlines back home over their refusal to
train because of Anelka`s expulsion for a foul-mouthed
outburst at coach Raymond Domenech then they were wrong.
"This France team has shamed us all" commented a tabloid while on the front page they simply put `Mutiny`
above a photograph of the squad at their training ground in
The paper didn`t hold back in its judgement on the squad
- though according to their information several players were
not in favour of the boycott led by senior players William
Gallas, Florent Malouda and Eric Abidal.
But as Le Parisien said, other players "followed their
lead nevertheless like sheep" or "because they had no choice"
under the pressure of their teammates.
"Each day, the Blues set new standards of unacceptable
behaviour," it said.
"Yesterday in order to demonstrate their support of
Nicolas Anelka who had been expelled the day before, they went
on strike... this group of spoilt children, allowed to do
whatever they want by the powers above them, therefore
do not have any limits, no sense of duty so close to the match
with South Africa."
Anelka unleashed his outburst at half-time of France`s
2-0 defeat to Mexico whichy has left them teetering on the
brink of elimination.
They must beat host nation South Africa by a wide margin
on Tuesday, but a draw between their group rivals Uruguay and
Mexico would render the French result academic.
Coach Raymond Domenech, who the French Football
Federation steadfastly refused to replace despite calls from
all sides in the lead-up to the finals, does not escape the
"One question raises itself: Would the players have dared
to behave in this way with the great coaches of today like
Fabio Capello (England`s coach), Marcello Lippi (Italy) or
Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland)?"
The paper even goes so far as to equate what happened on
the training pitch with one of France`s most traumatic
battlefield defeats which brought to a conclusive end the
golden era of Napoleon I.
"The mutiny at Knysna will forever be remembered as the
Waterloo of French football."
A sports daily revealed the Anelka outburst
on Saturday, didn`t mince its words about the role of national
captain Patrice Evra, who led the revolt.
"Patrice Evra definitively showed that he confused the
role of captain with being a leader of a gang. He has neither
the capacity, nor the charisma nor the qualities to don the
For the paper, however, it also registered the last
opportunity for 57-year-old Domenech to bow out with some
grace as he steps down in any case after the finals and hands
over the poisoned chalice to World Cup-winning defender
"Raymond Domenech, by reading this statement from the
players missed his final opportunity to show panache and
"Hostage, puppet of his group, he proved once and for all
that he has neither any sense of responsbility nor
The FFF don`t escape the withering fire of L`Equipe
neither - president Jean-Pierre Escalettes is described as an
"amateur from start to finish" - with only the liaison
director to the squad Jean-Louis Valentin who resigned over
the players` behaviour given credit.
"Who maintained Raymond Domenech in power? Who covered up
his methods and defended his arrogance? Who allowed the
players to ferment their paranoia and conspiracy theories?
"Let no-one be duped, the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka for
his insults, is not a glorious step for the FFF.”
"It was the least they could do which adds up to very
little, and certainly does not reduce their immense
responsibility in the farcical, theatrical goings-on of
Left-leaning daily `Liberation` headlined its editorial
`Vaudeville` and held Domenech responsible.
"He never assumed the responsbilities of the Euro 2008
failure and clung to his post. He confused the pitch with a
reality TV studio. In summation Raymond Domenech accepted to
be the plaything of financial interests, the federation,
television, players` agents and other sponsors."
The editorial effectively decries the flood of money into
football and ends with: "A sport which yesterday in France
lost a lot of credit."