Five rebel French players face disciplinary case
The French football federation opened a disciplinary case on
Friday against five of the players who went on strike at the World
Cup in South Africa.
Nicolas Anelka, Franck Ribery, Eric Abidal, Jeremy Toulalan and
captain Patrice Evra will appear before the disciplinary commission
of the French federation later this month.
The federal council of the federation asked the disciplinary
commission to give a ruling on the case after reviewing a report
from a commission of inquiry set up last month.
The commission is expected to gather within 15 days.
The French federation said in a statement the five players were
summoned ”because of their behavior or roles within the
Regarding other players, the federal council considered that
withholding World Cup bonuses which were due to be paid for
advertising benefits, added to the collective suspension for next
week’s friendly in Norway, were ”appropriate” punishments.
However, the disciplinary commission is allowed to hear more
players if it discovers new material during its investigation, the
”This is a balanced decision,” Laurent Davenas, a member of
the three-man inquiry commission, told The Associated Press.
”It would have been impossible to ask the disciplinary
commission to hear all 23 players,” he said. ”We tried to target
some of them. We have the feeling that some players were king
French federation president Fernand Duchaussoy said before the
meeting of the federal council that such a move did not necessarily
mean sanctions would be taken.
Three investigators have interviewed 18 of the 23 World Cup
players, staff members and federation officials who were in South
Africa when all the players decided to boycott a training
The strike was intended to protest Anelka’s exclusion from the
squad following an expletive-filled tirade directed at then-coach
Raymond Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico.
According to Patrick Braouezec, a deputy in the French national
assembly who was a member of the inquiry commission, none of the
players who were questioned confirmed the Chelsea striker used the
offensive and crude words printed by sports daily L’Equipe after
Braouezec told RTL radio on Friday that the players accepted
collective responsibility in the case.
”They were not pressurized and there were no leaders,” he
Anelka never denied ranting at Domenech but took L’Equipe to
court for libel, accusing the newspaper of distorting his words.
The case is unlikely to start until after this month.
After Anelka’s words were splashed across the front page of the
newspaper, the French football federation sent the striker home,
and the following day the entire squad refused to take part in
training in protest at the decision.
That day, Evra had a lively altercation with the team’s fitness
coach that was captured on TV. Former international Lilian Thuram –
France’s most capped player and also a member of the federal
council – said the Manchester United defender should never play for
the team again after leading the boycott.
Lyon midfielder Toulalan also admitted that his personal press
officer helped the players write a letter explaining their strike.
Domenech agreed to read the letter to the media in South
Bayern winger Ribery was a vice-captain at the World Cup while
Barcelona defender Abidal refused to play France’s last game
against South Africa.
Newly-appointed French coach Laurent Blanc dropped all the World
Cup players for next week’s friendly in Norway as collective
punishment for their actions.
Blanc now hopes the disciplinary commission will not impose
further suspensions on the players, a decision that would hamper
his team’s chances in the qualifying race for the 2012 European
France crashed out in the first round at the World Cup without
winning a match. France also failed to get past the group stages at