World Cup 2010 - Blanc suspends France strike 23

Fri, 23 Jul 15:40:00 2010

New France coach Laurent Blanc has suspended all 23 players involved in their shamed World Cup campaign from the friendly clash with Norway on August 11.

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Blanc, who took charge of Les Blues after Raymond Domenech's team crashed out of the World Cup in South Africa at the first hurdle, had said he would ring the changes after what he called an "unacceptable" incident.

The national team refused to train the day after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for rowing with Domenech at half-time during the 2-0 World Cup Group A defeat to Mexico. Captain Patrice Evra led a walk-out that players claimed was their response to a leak about the Anelka incident from the coaching staff to the press.

"Laurent Blanc presented his sporting project to the Federal Council today," the France Football Federation said on their website.

"He also proposed to the Council that we do not retain any of the 23 players selected for the World Cup in South Africa for the friendly match against Norway in Oslo on Wednesday August 11.

"We have accepted this proposal. Laurent Blanc will communicate his squad list for this match on Thursday August 5, at 11.30am."

The FFF's council was also expected to discuss the positions of playmaker Franck Ribery and striker Karim Benzema, who are under judicial investigation on suspicion of solliciting sex with an under-age prostitute.

However caretaker president Fernand Duchaussoy, holding his first news conference after replacing Jean-Pierre Escalettes who resigned after the World Cup, said no decision had been taken.

"Personally, I'm convinced that people who play for the national team have to be absolutely clean but I'll have to discuss the matter with Laurent Blanc. I shall respect his wishes and the general interest," he said.

France, who drew with Uruguay in their first game before losing to Mexico, left several senior players out of their final match against South Africa, which they lost 2-1 to seal an embarrassing early exit.

Players apologised for the incident, but continued to blame former coach Domenech for the fall-out, saying he had lost the dressing room.

Domenech was a controversial figure in his six-year spell as France coach, renowned for his bizarre statements and behaviour and eccentric player selections. However, he led Les Bleus to the 2006 World Cup final.

Some council members had also called for the dismissal of Domenech, whose six-year tenure ended in shame after the boycott.

"It's a tricky problem. We discussed it but the only thing I can say is that Domenech will be summoned in the next few days and if he wants to resign, I shall not object," Duchaussoy said.

Norwegian national coach Egil Olsen said he had no objection to facing a new-look France team.

"I will just have to accept that." he was quoted as saying on the website of the Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

"I think they have many good, young teams. I am sure the players who will come will be hungry and looking for revenge."

Eurosport

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