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France clamps down on dissidents

Published Jul 03, 2012 04:50pm


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France clamps down on dissidents
Samir Nasri, one of four players facing FFF charges. - Photo by AFP

Bonuses owed to the France team for having made the quarter-finals of the recently-concluded European Championships have been frozen, the French Football Federation (FFF) announced on Tuesday.

Each member of the French team, which lost 2-0 in the quarters to eventual winners Spain, was eligible for a bonus of 100,000 euros.

But in light of the in-fighting and ill-discipline that dogged the country's Euro campaign, federation president Noel Le Graet said: “The whole of the bonuses of the France team at Euro 2012 are frozen.

“It's blocked money, which may be redistributed or maybe not.”

Le Graet, up for re-election in December, added that four players from the squad would appear at a disciplinary committee “as soon as possible after their holidays” to explain their behaviour at the tournament hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

“Four players will go before the disciplinary committee: (Hatem) Ben Arfa, (Yann) Mvila, (Samir) Nasri and (Jeremy) Menez,” Le Graet said after a meeting of the executive committee, a body he said was unable to impose sanctions.

“The players must be punished, sanctioned, but I don't want to make victims out of them.

“Financial sanctions are detailed in our statutes, and (possible) suspensions for the upcoming cases will be examined most fairly.”

Nasri verbally abused an AFP journalist after the loss to Spain and was seen as a disruptive influence throughout, while Ben Arfa had a dressing room row with Laurent Blanc, who stood down as coach after the tournament.

Menez railed at a referee, and gestured at captain Hugo Lloris during the Spain game, telling him to shut up, while M'Vila did not shake hands with Blanc or his replacement when he was substituted by Olivier Giroud.

All the incidents led many pundits to draw similarities to the France squad that disgraced itself at the 2010 World Cup.

Le Graet added that France's World Cup and Euro-winning captain Didier Deschamps “is part of a shortlist” in the federation's bid to find a suitable replacement for Blanc.

“I saw Didier Deschamps quickly yesterday evening (Monday),” Le Graet said.

“In any case, the proposal was made to him. He confirmed to me that the France team was part of his dreams.

“He asked me for a few days to think things over. He's part of a shortlist.

“If Didier drags it out too much, I'll take another decision. But I won't today disturb a Ligue 1 club,” Le Graet said in a nod to Deschamps' current employer, cash-strapped Marseille.

But if confirmed, 43-year-old Deschamps, once witheringly described as a “water carrier” by Eric Cantona, would be taking on what increasingly looks like a poisoned chalice after a torrid recent history for the 1998 world champions.

Euro 2000-winner Roger Lemerre stepped down after France failed to exit the group stage at the 2002 World Cup; Jacques Santini, left after Euro 2004 for an ill-fated sojourn at Spurs; and Domenech went in 2010 after a rollercoaster six years.

Should Deschamps take over, he would at least be able to continue the hard work that Blanc had put in since replacing the largely unloved Domenech after the 2010 World Cup debacle, which compounded a disastrous Euro 2008 campaign.


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