Ex-France captain appeals WCup-linked suspension

The lawyer for former France captain Patrice Evra says his
client is appealing his five-game suspension, the punishment for
the team’s boycott of a training session at the World Cup.

However, the French Football Federation’s legal arm said Tuesday
that the appeal will not suspend his punishment, meaning that he
still will not be eligible to play in upcoming European
Championship qualifying matches.

The federation punished four players at a mid-August hearing
after the 23 France players boycotted a training session in South
Africa to protest the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka. The expulsion
came after Anelka – who has been suspended for 18 games – insulted
then-coach Raymond Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico on June
17.

Lawyer Jean-Yves Foucard said late Monday that Evra was
appealing his punishment because ”no grievance can be held against
him on an individual level,” the sports daily L’Equipe quoted the
attorney as saying. The responsibility for the team boycott was
”obviously collective,” Foucard said.

When an appeal is filed in a court of law any punishment is
suspended. However, the football federation said after a meeting
Tuesday that in this case, nothing will be suspended.

Such a decision effectively deprives new coach Laurent Blanc of
top players for qualification matches for the European Championship
as he tries to restore France’s competitiveness. Blanc is to
announce his team Thursday for the Sept. 3 match against Belarus,
to be followed by the Sept. 7 Bosnia match.

Franck Ribery was suspended for three games and Jeremy Toulalan
for a single match.

In an unusual development, several prestigious former coaches,
including Aime Jacquet, who coached the France team for the 1998
World Cup win, signed an open letter calling on the FFF to lift the
sanctions by Thursday.

”The France team is in danger,” began the strongly worded
letter.

”Unjust (the punishment should be collective like the act), out
of proportion, unbalanced (why such disparity?), without legal
foundation, the sanctions pour oil on the fire without reason when
the time has come to definitively douse the blaze and
rebuild.”

Blanc dropped all 23 World Cup players as a collective
punishment for his first game in charge – a 2-1 loss to Norway
earlier this month.