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.