Reuters - Sat, 19 Jun 18:44:00 2010
Striker Nicolas Anelka was kicked out of France's World Cup squad for insulting coach Raymond Domenech and refusing to apologise, the French Football Federation said.
Anelka insulted Domenech in a crude manner at half-time of a 2-0 defeat by Mexico on Thursday in Polokwane.
"The comments made by Nicolas Anelka towards national coach Raymond Domenech are totally unacceptable for the French Football Federation, French football and the values they defend," the FFF said.
FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes decided to exclude the striker after Anelka, who was to leave France's base at Knysna later on Saturday, said he would not apologise.
Anelka's insults towards Domenech came after the coach had criticised the player's attitude on the pitch against Mexico before deciding to take him off for the second half.
The player reacted by saying he had words with Domenech but denied having said the foul-month comments attributed to him by French sports daily L'Equipe.
"I have a lot of respect for France and for all my team mates, I insist on that," Anelka was quoted as saying on the website of French daily France Soir.
"I wish to state that the words printed in the press were not my words.
"I did have a heated conversation with the coach in the secrecy of the locker room, between the coach and myself, in front of my team mates and the staff. It should never had come out of the locker room."
The 31-year-old Anelka, who has scored 14 goals in 71 internationals, had faced heavy criticism from the French media for dismal displays in warm-up games and in the team's opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay.
Domenech had still kept faith in him and left Thierry Henry, France's record scorer with 51 goals from 122 appearances, out of his starting line-up for France's two matches so far.
By insulting Domenech, Anelka emulated former French enfant terrible Eric Cantona, who had called national team coach Henri Michel a "scumbag" in 1988 and did not play for France for months as a result.
French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot reacted to the Anelka incident by urging the France players to show dignity.
"The very high pressure weighing on Les Bleus does not authorise any form of slip-up," Bachelot said.
"The players must keep in mind that they're wearing France's colours and are considered as role models by many youngsters. This obliges them to show restraint and dignity."
Former France striker Just Fontaine, who scored a record 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup, had asked for Anelka to be sanctioned straight away.
"What's happening to the France team is moronic, deplorable and pitiful," Fontaine told Reuters.
"Anelka must be kicked out."