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Allez les bleus -- all the way back home

Au revoir! Forgive us for gloating but it's allez les bleus, all the way home.

Perhaps it was la karma or whatever the French is for gypsy curse, but the team which cheated us out of making it to South Africa will return home today in almost complete humiliation.

Of course, we could be grown-ups and empathise with them in their darkest hour, but Irish fans yesterday did little to conceal their joy at France's decisive World Cup defeat to host nation South Africa.

And even French supporters had no words of defence for their players' performance yesterday, admitting that they deserved to lose.

Frederic Pham, from Paris, who watched the France/South Africa match in Dublin's Temple Bar, said: "They had no fighting spirit. They have got great players on that team. They could have been first in their group."


Rudolf Gelis, who is studying in Dublin, said "It is a shame for all of France. They earn a lot of money and they refuse to play for their country". His friend, Leandre Nalonga, agreed, adding that the match had been "boring" and that they deserved to lose.

But other French fans simply refused to comment on their team's embarrassing loss to South Africa. "We are in a 'urry," muttered one man as he raced home, presumably to drown his sorrows.

Irish football fan Rory Whelan, from Naas, said he felt cheated by France. "They should have given up in Paris that night if they were going to give up so handy."

But he said he felt sorry for the players. "It's like someone put a gypsy curse on them. They have had a terrible World Cup."

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Alan McGrath said that with the coach they had "it was obviously not going to work out well for them". But he added that he was "happy enough to see them go. It's probably Thierry Henry's last world cup as well".

And Brona Michelle Whelan was equally unsympathetic. "I'm delighted, they deserved everything they got," she said.

Meanwhile, customers at The Bank pub on College Green were treated to free drinks after manager David Chawke fulfilled a promise to serve pints on the house when the French lost.

"We gave everyone a voucher for a free drink and we handed around a few glasses of champagne too. People were also asking for our posters, saying that Thierry Henry is barred."

Mr Chawke said they gave away a few free drinks to French fans. "They took it quite well," he said, estimating that the pub's tab was running at about €500 only an hour after the match ended.

Pizza Hut Delivery also gave away free pizzas every time France conceded a goal.

And a French online newspaper revealed yesterday that the French Football Federation was so sure the team would lose their final match they chartered the plane to fly the team home three days ago.

"They arrived travelling first class on a new Airbus A380. But they will be going back on an older Boeing 737, second class and with no special extras.

"The plane was booked three days ago, and will take off right after their match with South Africa should they be eliminated, without stopping off at their hotel," 'Le Post' claimed.

Meanwhile, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and finance minister Christine Lagarde have described the squad's behaviour as "unacceptable".

Ms Lagarde told the players: "When you wear the French national colours you have added responsibilities.

"There are young children, young adolescents who practise the sport and look to you as an example."

Fast-food chain Quick has cancelled an ad campaign featuring Anelka and the Credit Agricole bank also withdrew its sponsorship in disgust.

Several towns around France even axed plans for large public screenings of the match.

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