World Cup: France's Anelka joins Hall of Shame
When the French team sent petulant striker Nicolas Anelka back to France over the weekend after his profane rant against Coach Raymond Domenech, he joined a list of shamed participants who have been sent home from the World Cup over the years. Eight unmemorable moments from the last nine World Cups, courtesy of the South African newspaper The Times:
1. William Mokoena and Brendan Augustine, South Africa, 1998: The two Bafana Bafana players were sent packing after returning to the team hotel at 6 a.m. The pair had been visiting a French nightclub when they apparently lost track of the time. Could happen to anyone, right? Coach Philippe Troussier was not amused. "They are just tourists," he said when asked of the players' status.
2. Diego Maradona, Argentina, 1994: The current Argentine coach, then a player, was sent home from the U.S. World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine.
3. Roy Keane, Ireland, 2002: Manchester United, Keane's club team, sent a private plane to Japan to fetch the hard-nosed Irish captain after he had a heated row with Coach Mick McCarthy over the choice of training facilities for the team.
4. Faustino Asprilla, Colombia, 1998: Asprilla got a free ride to the airport after criticizing Colombia's coach during a live radio broadcast after the coach had substituted him out of a game with Romania.
5. Graham Poll, England, 2006: England's best referee fouled up when he booked Croatia's Jospi Simunic three times -- or one more than the allowable limit -- during a match against Australia.
6. Pablo Larios, France, 1982: The French midfielder was kicked off the team when it was revealed he was having an affair with the wife of teammate Michel Platini. Larios still may not be welcome back at the World Cup since Platini, a UEFA bigwig, is a close friend of FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
7. Willie Johnston, Scotland, 1978: For the controversial Scottish winger, this proved one controversy too many. When he was found guilty of using a banned substance in the opening match with Peru, his international career was over.
8. Ernest Jean-Joseph, Haiti, 1974: He became Haiti's most famous soccer player after becoming the first to fail a doping test. Let's hope painkillers weren't on the banned list because Jean-Joseph was beaten up by embarrassed team officials before being sent home.
By the way, even though the warring French team meets winless South Africa in Tuesday's Group A finale, the South African papers have shown little patience with Anelka's antics or those of the team. One paper ran a picture of the French striker below the headline "The Incredible Sulk" and quoted Domenech as suggesting that Anelka could have stayed with the team if he had only apologized for his antics.
Another daily's headline read, "Adieu, now just go." It appeared over a story that said the French shouldn't have been at the World Cup in the first place.
-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa