France's dismal World Cup campaign hit a new low on Saturday after it emerged that striker Nicolas Anelka (left) had been expelled from the squad following a dressing-room showdown with coach Raymond Domenech (at right).
AFP - France kicked star striker Nicolas Anelka out of the World Cup on Saturday after a foul-mouthed tirade at coach Raymond Domenech during the 2-0 defeat to Mexico.
L'Equipe sports daily claimed the Chelsea forward told Domenech to "go screw yourself, dirty son of a whore" at half-time of Thursday match's in Polokwane after the coach criticised his first-half performance.
Anelka's exclusion laid bare the divisions within the French camp in a disastrous World Cup campaign when captain Patrice Evra refused to condemn the striker, but said there was a "traitor" in the squad who had leaked the bust-up to the media.
The France Football Federation (FFF) said Anelka would leave South Africa on Saturday after he refused to apologise for his "unacceptable" outburst.
"Anelka's remarks are totally unacceptable for the FFF, French football and the values it defends," said an FFF statement.
"The president of the FFF, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, asked Nicolas Anelka, in the presence of captain Patrice Evra, to apologise.
"With the refusal of the player to publicly apologise, it was decided in full agreement with the coach and members of the delegation in Knysna to exclude Nicolas Anelka from the squad."
Anelka admitted having a "heated discussion" with Domenech, but denied using the words quoted in L'Equipe.
"I certainly had a heated discussion with the coach but it happened in the sanctity of the dressing room, between the coach and I, in front of my teammates and the team's staff.
"This should never have left the dressing room," the 31-year-old striker told France-Soir newspaper.
"I insist that the words which have come out in the press are not my words," he said, although he declined to reveal exactly what he had said.
A clearly uncomfortable Evra told a tense news conference: "The team's problem is not Anelka, but the traitor in our ranks. We have to eliminate this traitor from the squad.
"This comes from someone in the squad who wants to hurt the France team," the Manchester United defender said.
Anelka's tirade came after Domenech told Anelka to stop straying out of position against Mexico after a first half when France barely threatened the Mexican goal, L'Equipe reported.
When Anelka took issue with the criticism, Domenech threatened to substitute him, prompting the player to make his foul-mouthed outburst, the newspaper said.
Domenech replaced Anelka with Andre-Pierre Gignac for the second half of the match, but Mexico secured victory with two second-half goals, leaving the finalists from four years ago staring elimination in the face.
If their Group A rivals Uruguay and Mexico draw their final group match on Tuesday, France will fail to qualify for the last 16 regardless of their own result against host nation South Africa.
The French training camp has reportedly been riven with disputes between Domenech and his players since they arrived in South Africa.
Bernard Saules, a senior member of the FFF, hit out at the attitude of Anelka and other under-performing players.
"We are the only team at the World Cup who aren't playing for their country's pride. We need to push out some of these little shits," he said.
Anelka has scored 14 goals in 71 international appearances and Domenech started him in France's first match of the tournament, a 0-0 draw with Uruguay when he was substituted after 72 minutes, and in the Mexico game.
The much-travelled striker, who has played for eight clubs, was a key part of the Chelsea team which won a Premier League and FA Cup double this season.
In France, the Quick burger restaurant chain announced it was withdrawing advertising material featuring Anelka.
Date created : 2010-06-19