PARIS - The French government on
Wednesday denied any political interference in football affairs
but kept debating the national team's World Cup debacle amid a
suspension threat by FIFA.
World governing body president Sepp Blatter said on Tuesday
FIFA could suspend the French Football Federation (FFF) if
France's politicians kept meddling in football.
That means the country could be banned from international
tournaments and French clubs could not take part in European
"There was never any question of the French government
interfering in the affairs of the French Football Federation,"
French government spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters on
FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes resigned on Monday in
the wake of France's disastrous showing in South Africa, saying
the decision was his own, but sports minister Roselyne Bachelot
had said last week his resignation was "unavoidable".
"She (Bachelot) indeed indicated that she personally
believed his resignation was unavoidable but she did not ask for
his resignation," Chatel said.
France's woeful campaign sparked a national debate in France
with senior politicians getting involved. Bachelot appeared
before a parliamentary commission on Tuesday, and on Wednesday
Escalettes and outgoing coach Raymond Domenech did the same.
"It is normal for members of parliament to try to find out
exactly what happened because it is a topic that preoccupies
French people," Chatel said.
France left the World Cup at the group stage after a
campaign rocked by the players' decision to boycott a training
session in support of striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home
for insulting Domenech.
While Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan suspended his
national team from international competition for two years
following their poor World Cup performance, France took a
different route with high-level meetings over the fiasco.
Escalettes told the parliamentary commission on Wednesday he
had felt helpless against the player revolt that led to him
handing in his resignation.
The FFF official said he could do nothing to stop the
players boycotting a training session in support of expelled
The 75-year-old Escalettes told the commission about the
incident at Knysna in South Africa's Western Cape, and how he
had tried to convince the players sitting on the team coach that
refusing to train was not a good idea.
The players, who eventually left the World Cup in disgrace
with just one point and one goal from three group matches, would
not listen and continued the boycott to protest against the FFF
decision to kick out Anelka after he had insulted Domenech.
Escalettes and Domenech told the commission they had tried
their best to reason with the rebellious players.
"He (Escalettes) told us that in the coach they (Escalettes
and Domenech) had used every conceivable argument in vain,"
commission member Lionel Tardy told reporters after Wednesday's
hearing, that took place behind closed doors.
"Escalettes told us they faced a wall (of opposition),
something he had never experienced in over 50 years in football,
and they could not make it fall," he added. "For him, something
was broken that day."
Escalettes faced criticism for failing to prevent the
squad's implosion but also for having always supported Domenech,
whose traumatic six-year tenure ended with France's elimination.
Domenech, whose lack of authority and vision were exposed at
the World Cup, told the commission French sports daily L'Equipe
had contributed to the team's collapse by printing Anelka's
crude insults on its front page.
France's World Cup disaster will be back under the spotlight
on Friday with an FFF council meeting at which Domenech's
successor, Laurent Blanc, should be presented with a two-year
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Andy Carroll pulls out of England's friendly internationals against Ireland and Brazil
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010