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.