France players to face probe

2010-08-17 07:53

Paris - Former France captain Patrice Evra and four team-mates will attend a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday for their role in the infamous strike at the World Cup and face sanctions that range from lifetime international bans to a mere reproof.

The French Football Federation have also summoned Nicolas Anelka, Franck Ribery, Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulalan.

All 23 of France's players boycotted a training session at the tournament in South Africa in June to protest Anelka's expulsion from the squad after he had insulted then coach Raymond Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico.

France crashed out in the first round without winning a match and the players' actions - which included Evra clashing with a fitness trainer, and the squad's sit-in on the team bus being captured live on television - horrified the French public and received condemnation from President Nicolas Sarkozy and other political leaders.

The players have already been punished financially, with the federation withholding their World Cup bonuses. But hard-liners like Lilian Thuram, a former international and a member of the FFF council, say Evra should never play for France again.

France coach Laurent Blanc wants to move on after having dropped all 23 players for his first match in charge last week - a 2-1 loss to Norway in a friendly.

"I did not become a national coach to punish the France team," Blanc said. "What I'm interested in is to put together the best team with the best players. To get the best results, I must try to have the best team."

Blanc hopes to have all players available for 2012 European Championship qualifiers against Belarus and Bosnia in September.

Ribery, who was vice captain at the World Cup, is unlikely to be at the hearing because Bayern Munich is refusing to release him ahead of its opening Bundesliga match on Friday against Wolfsburg.