World Cup: French team comes apart
The mutiny is complete. The French World Cup team, in total disarray before the tournament even started, is now refusing to practice. Winless and goalless heading into Tuesday's final group-play game, the French players did not take the field Sunday, a day after striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting lame-duck Coach Raymond Domenech.
And team director Jean-Louis Valentin, for one, has had enough, resigning his post and saying he is fed up.
"It's a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It's a scandal for the federation and the French team," Valentin told the Associated Press. "They don't want to train. It's unacceptable.
"As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted," said Valentin, who walked away from the training field, got into a car and drove off.
The latest chaotic scene, according to reporters who were there, comes a day after Anelka was kicked off the team for a profanity-laced tirade against Domenech, whose tactics and management skills have been called into question.
The team arrived at training as usual Sunday and got off the bus to greet fans, but Domenech and France captain Patrice Evra stayed on the bus longer to talk.
When Domenech, who is out of a job after Tuesday's finale, and Evra finally disembarked, fitness coach Robert Duverne was on the field putting down training cones. When Evra and Duverne started to argue, Domenech walked over to intervene. Duverne then stormed off, throwing his accreditation badge to the ground.
Evra then handed a letter to the press officer, and the players, en masse, boarded the team bus and drew the curtains.
France, finalists four years ago, tied Uruguay and lost to Mexico and was scheduled to play South Africa on Tuesday.
-- Kevin Baxter, in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo: French team captain Patrice Evra speaks to the media in Knysna, South Africa, on Saturday, the day before the team refused to practice. France is set to face South Africa on Tuesday. Credit: Johann Hattingh / EPA