Tournament News

Police protection for France

2010-06-24 13:10
France coach Raymond Domenech (File)
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Le Bourget - France's Soccer World Cup squad has arrived home to a cold welcome after a humiliating early exit condemned by domestic media as "A State Scandal."

The team's chartered plane landed on Thursday in the small Bourget airport near Paris, where police guarded the tarmac to let the players disembark away from journalists and fans.

Les Bleus were eliminated from the first round after a tournament in which they went on strike, failed to win a match and had striker Nicolas Anelka expelled for insulting the coach.

Domenech, who is retiring as coach, added yet more dismay by refusing to shake hands with rival coach Carlos Alberto Parreira after France's last 2-1 loss to host South Africa.

Star striker Thierry Henry, a former team captain and a 1998 World Cup champion who only played 52 minutes across two games in South Africa, stepped off the team plane and joined a small motorcade sent by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Henry went to a private meeting with Sarkozy, entering the Elysee Palace by a side door and making no public comment.

The football fiasco is taking an increasing political turn in France, where the leading sports daily L'Equipe had dubbed the debacle "A State Scandal."

Sarkozy has vowed to personally investigate the matter. He met with Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot on Wednesday to discuss ways to reform French football.

"The head of state asked the ministers to ensure that those responsible learn the lessons of this disaster quickly," Sarkozy's office said in a statement, implying that several managers from the team and federation could resign. "He also asked the ministers to ensure that no financial reward is given."

Henry and some other team members have confirmed they aren't taking any bonuses from the cup, including from private sponsors.

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