French World Cup players skip practice to protest coach

Protesting expulsion of France star Nicolas Anelka, the team boycotts training


Jerome Pugmire
June 20, 2010 7:43PM (UTC)

France's World Cup team refused to train Sunday in protest of Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad.

Anelka was kicked off the team a day earlier for a profanity-laced tirade against coach Raymond Domenech, whose tactics and management skills have been called into question.

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"The French Football Federation did not at any time try to protect the group. They took a decision uniquely based on facts reported by the press," Domenech said, reading from a statement written by the players explaining their protest.

"As a consequence and to show our opposition to the decision taken by officials of the federation, all the players decided not to take part in today's training session."

The latest chaotic scene also led to the resignation of France team director Jean-Louis Valentin.

"It's a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It's a scandal for the federation and the French team," Valentin said. "They don't want to train. It's unacceptable.

"As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted," said Valentin, who walked away from the training field, got into a car and drove off.

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The team arrived at training as usual Sunday and got off the bus to greet fans, but Domenech and France captain Patrice Evra stayed on the bus to talk.

When Domenech and Evra finally disembarked, fitness coach Robert Duverne was on the field putting down training cones. Evra and Duverne began to argue and Domenech walked over to intervene. Duverne then stormed off, throwing his accreditation badge to the ground.

Evra then handed a letter to the press officer, and the players, en masse, boarded the team bus and drew the curtains.

In their first two matches at the World Cup, France drew 0-0 with Uruguay and then lost 2-0 to Mexico. France can still advance to the round of 16 with a win over host South Africa, as long as Uruguay and Mexico don't draw in the other Group A match.

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Jerome Pugmire

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