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World Cup: French stripped of their sponsors

June 21, 2010 |  8:29 am

Credit Agricole SA, one of France's largest banks, wasn't the only sponsor to bail on France after the team bailed on its coach Sunday.

When the team -- their word, not ours -- resumed training Monday at its practice facility east of Cape Town, South Africa, it did so only after the names of all of its sponsors had been removed from its practice kits. So instead of wearing more decals than a NASCAR racer, the French players practiced in plain blue kits, with only the manufacturer's label visible.

Other than that, though, the session went ahead without any of the drama of Sunday, when captain Patrice Evra had an altercation with the team's physical trainer, one French soccer federation official resigned and Coach Raymond Domenech was put in the embarrassing position of having to explain why the players were on strike.

France, the World Cup champion in 1998 and a finalist in 2006, may be eliminated from the World Cup on Tuesday if it doesn't win with a big score against South Africa. And as if the circus wasn't big enough already, another clown joined up when Zinedine Zidane, whose inexplicable head butt late in the last World Cup final arguably cost his team the title, says he is disappointed by France's on-field performances at the World Cup and doesn't agree with the team's actions off of it.

Zidane said France's players should have trained Sunday instead of boycotting practice in protest of Nicolas Anelka being thrown off the squad. While Zidane calls France's situation "sad," he does believe a victory Tuesday will help it get past its current predicament.

"This team has the possibility to get over this obstacle with this match. Everything can change for them," Zidane said Monday, adding that France remains in contention for the title. "I hope they can still get out of this group. There is hope even if everything that has been said to now is the opposite."

Zidane also denied reports he advised France before its 2-0 loss to Mexico.

"To think that I could call the players and tell them how to play -- I mean, you have to be kidding me," Zidane said before explaining his relationship with Domenech. "I never had a problem with this coach, but I never had a good feeling for him. But I respected him in his position as coach. I was on the ship, I was captain of the team [in 2006].

"Yes, I'm sad like a lot of people who support this team. Yes, I'm sad because we talk about everything but football. We're all disappointed, me firstly, because I wore this jersey for a long time and the nicest thing I could have was to wear it."

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa