Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 March 2018

Blanc leads move to ban disgraced French squad for next game

France's 23-member World Cup squad have been suspended for the country's next game after their first-round exit from this year's tournament, the French Football Federation (FFF) said yesterday.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the FFF's Federal council on the recommendation of new coach Laurent Blanc.

France's ignominious departure from South Africa followed a players' boycott of a training session in support of striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech.

Blanc, who was appointed on July 2 to replace Domenech and restore the pride of the 1998 world champions, will announce on August 5 the players selected for the game against Norway in Oslo six days later.

The FFF's council was also expected to discuss the positions of playmaker Franck Ribery and striker Karim Benzema, who are under judicial investigation on suspicion of soliciting sex with an underage prostitute.

However, caretaker president Fernand Duchaussoy, holding his first news conference after replacing Jean-Pierre Escalettes, who resigned after the World Cup, said no decision had been taken.


"Personally, I'm convinced that people who play for the national team have to be absolutely clean, but I'll have to discuss the matter with Laurent Blanc. I shall respect his wishes and the general interest," he said.

Some council members had also called for the dismissal of Domenech, whose six-year tenure ended in shame after the boycott.

"It's a tricky problem. We discussed it but the only thing I can say is that Domenech will be summoned in the next few days and if he wants to resign, I shall not object," Duchaussoy previously said.

Duchaussoy said the council fully approved Blanc's proposal to omit all 23 players selected by the French Federation for the World Cup.

He said heavier sanctions against the leaders of the team's mutiny in Knysna, where the players refused to train two days before their last group game, would depend on the result of an inquiry already ordered by Escalettes.

Norwegian national coach Egil Olsen said he had no objection to facing a new-look France team.

"I will just have to accept that," he said. "I think they have many good, young teams. I am sure the players who will come will be hungry."

The first official game under Blanc is on September 3 when France host Belarus in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

Irish Independent

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