Saturday 25 March 2017

French face Les Bleus Murder

Henry requests Sarkozy meeting to give account of World Cup disaster

Pierre Ramont in Paris

Thierry Henry will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy following the national team's disastrous World Cup campaign.

The presidential palace confirmed that the striker had called Mr Sarkozy to request a meeting upon the team's return from South Africa.

"Henry called the president from South Africa to tell him that he wanted to see him on his return," a statement from the presidential palace read.

France exited the tournament with their tails between their legs following a 2-1 defeat to hosts South Africa yesterday.

Their pitiful performances, though, were overshadowed by the extraordinary goings-on off the pitch, with Nicolas Anelka being sent home following a row with coach Raymond Domenech and the players refusing to train for a day to show their unhappiness at the decision.

The players have come in for heavy criticism from the French Football Federation and politicians alike for their actions.

Yesterday, winger Florent Malouda apologised to his nation and its fans after the team's disastrous performances and conceded that restoring its battered reputation was now a priority.

Domenech and his players are expected to get an extremely hostile reception from a nation shocked by their behaviour during the tournament.

National team captain Patrice Evra, demoted to the substitutes' bench for the last match, said he wanted to apologise to the nation for the players' refusal to train and was prevented from doing so by Domenech.

Bonuses

Evra said he would make a statement on his return to France to "tell everything I lived, everything that I saw".

"Everybody needs to hear the reasons for this disaster," he told reporters.

"There's nothing to hide. The French team doesn't answer to one person, it answers to all the French people," the captain said.

The Manchester United defender added that the players would refuse any financial bonuses related to their performance in South Africa.

"We won't accept one centime," an obviously crushed Evra said.

However, the offer is immaterial as the French Football Federation said in a statement that the players weren't due any bonuses, having failed to meet the minimum objective of qualifying for the second round.

French-Belgian hamburger chain Quick and French bank Credit Agricole SA suspended advertising campaigns involving the squad.

Yesterday Mr Sarkozy met with his Prime Minister Francois Fillon, health minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, who also counts sports in her portfolio, and under-secretary for sports Rama Yade.

"The head of state asked his ministers to make sure that those responsible rapidly draw the necessary conclusions from this disaster," Mr Sarkozy's office said in a statement.

The players may have underestimated the reaction to their mutiny in refusing to train ahead of the crucial match against South Africa, according to a shaken Malouda.

"I don't know if it's going to be possible but we have to work hard to restore the image of the French national team," he said.

"We realise that we hurt a lot of people."

Full report: See Sport

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