French football team back home with scandal, secret

08:19, June 25, 2010      

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French national football team returning from South Africa World Cup was welcomed by big front-page headline of "State Affair."

Though firmly besieged the airport, no media managed to grasp any image of their arrival nor throughout striker Thierry Henry's meeting with the President Nicolas Sarkozy because of top security.

At the request of Henry, Sarkozy received him at Elysee Palace to discuss the debacle. Media reported Henry had left after one hour meeting most secretly, escaping from over a hundred journalists waiting outside. The discussion between the two men was totally private and no contents have been released so far.

The internet edition of French newspaper France-Soir put the secret meeting as the headline, describing Thierry Henry as "the Ghost of Elysee." Le Point reported that the entourage of Sarkozy didn't make any comment either.

The 22-player team, together with notorious coach Raymond Domenech and the President of the French football Federation (FFF) Jean-Pierre Escalettes finally arrived in Paris around Thursday noon.

Striker Franck Ribery set off to Munich in a private jet as soon as he landed the French soil. Left winger Florent Malouda, who marked the only goal in the first round matches, arrived in UK and claimed to be "on holiday," and refused to comment on the scandal or his team members when walking out of the London airport.

According to the president's press officials, Sarkozy had ordered the ministers to ensure no financial rewards would be given to the football team, and all people concerned and responsible must learn the lessons.

During the first round of group matches, the French team resulted in two defeats to Mexico and South Africa respectively, a draw with Uruguay on the opening day of June 14.

Nevertheless, Malouda managed to mark the only single goal in the last match with South Africa.

However, in between the depressing score had been serious internal rifts. Striker Nicolas Anelka sent home after insulting the coach, players' refusal of a public official training, all accumulated a total disgrace for the French nationals.

Domenech announced his departure at the end of the match, giving his best wishes to his successor and the future team. But his refusal to shake hands with the Brazilian coach of South Africa Carlos Alberto Parreira in front of all media cameras, plus refusing twice to explain this when questioned by journalists at the press conference afterwards, had also outraged the French.

His successor Laurent Blanc was among the heroes of the 1998 national team when France won the World Cup. Media urge him to move on quickly as the next match for the national team is scheduled on September 3rd with Belarus for the peliminary session of Euro 2012.

Left wing socialist Francois Holland commented on June 22 that the team had set a very bad example to everybody in this World Cup's performance, saying they had done all that should not have been done.

Ex-national team member and commentator Emmanuel Petit also said the whole team and management had not learnt any lesson after Euro 2008, they had made no improvements and the results today were not untraceable.


Special Report: World Cup 2010


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