France 'stupid' to strike
Hugo Lloris (AFP)
Paris - France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris criticised the squad for being "totally stupid" for going on strike during a Soccer World Cup training session, and he is desperate to "restore the image" that was so badly damaged in South Africa.
France walked out of a training session shortly before being eliminated from the tournament at the group stage, prompting sharp criticism of former coach Raymond Domenech's disgraced squad from French fans and politicians.
The players refused to train in protest at the treatment of team-mate Nicolas Anelka. The striker was sent home for insulting Domenech during the second group match, a 2-0 defeat to Mexico.
"Going on strike was the decision of a group that felt isolated, that felt no one had protected it, and that wanted to get a message across," Lloris said on Friday in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe. "We went way too far. It was a clumsy decision, a big mistake. It was totally stupid."
Former France defender Lilian Thuram, now a French Football Federation council member, has called for some players, such as former captain Patrice Evra, never to play for the national team again because of their decision to strike.
"We acted more like a team in the bus than on the pitch," the 23-year-old Lloris said.
"We all want to restore the image of Les Bleus. I'm not asking for us to win everything, just that we all make an effort, that we give everything," he added. "We need to get back to basics, respect for the jersey, for ourselves, our teammates and the institution that is the France team."
France also played badly, failing to win a game at the World Cup, just like two years earlier, when Domenech's team failed to progress from the group stage at the European Championship without winning a game.
Lloris stopped short of blaming Domenech, even though he did accept that France had underperformed for the last two years under Domenech.
Laurent Blanc has replaced Domenech as France coach and his first game in charge is against Norway in a friendly in Oslo on Aug. 11, followed by a 2012 European Championship qualifier at home to Belarus on Sept. 3 at Stade de France.
Blanc may decide to drop some players for his opening game in charge to send out a strong warning.
Lloris, who has 14 international appearances and is expected to stay as No. 1, accepts the players have an obligation "to make sure what happened in South Africa never happens again, that we don't self-destruct in that way ever again."