French press glad to see back of disgraced team
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The French media practically breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday, with France’s humiliating exit from the World Cup capping a dismal performance in South Africa but bringing a nightmare two weeks marked by infighting and egos to a close.
AFP - France's chaotic exit from the World Cup was greeted with derision by the French media on Wednesday and few tears were shed for the departing coach Raymond Domenech.
Indeed, there was almost relief at the end of a nightmare two weeks scarred by Nicolas Anelka's expulsion and a players' mutiny.
"The end of one world" was the headline in sports daily L'Equipe, a wry reference to Domenech's traditionally unhelpful final press conference following the defeat by South Africa when he told the media: "I come from another world to you".
In an editorial, L'Equipe took a final pop at Domenech, criticising his failure to find an alternative system of play but reserving their strongest barbs for the atmosphere he imposed on the squad and the sport nationally.
"Taking people for fools may be an amusing game, but it is important to know when to stop," it fulminated.
"Provocation is a subtle art and without doubt a form of intelligence, except when mixed with arrogance and an attitude of contempt for others."
However, the paper also calls to account the French Football Federation (FFF) and its president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, who has gone from the high of heading the successful bid to host the 2016 European championships shortly before the finals to becoming a figure of ridicule.
"To punish the mutinous players will not be enough. The government should go further than that and take the process to its logical conclusion so that the FFF does not remain in the hands of these puppets," L'Equipe said.
The tabloid 'Le Parisien' sums it up nicely with the front-page headline over a photograph of Domenech saying: "Thank you and goodbye!".
"After six years (the length of Domenech's tenure) of psychodrama, there was to be no miracle," it said.
"Beaten by South Africa 'Les Bleus' were eliminated in lamentable fashion from the World Cup... lessons must be learned."
"France is not ready to excuse them" greets the eye on the inside page, while the paper features a student who spent all his savings to go and follow the team in South Africa. He says: "I saved up for months to have to watch that..."
Le Parisien also took a dim view of Domenech's refusal to shake South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira's hand.
It referred to the fact that at Euro 2008, Domenech made a marriage proposal live on TV to his girlfriend and presenter Estelle Denis, instead of responding to the question about how he felt about exiting the tournament in the first round.
"On the eve of the match he (Domenech) had called for France to play with honour and dignity in their final match.
"Yesterday evening, in his final gesture as national team coach Raymond Domenech lacked once more all those principles."
Left-leaning 'Liberation' runs the sarcastic headline 'And bravo again!' going on to say that "at last the tragi-comedy is over."
However, it reminds readers that France only qualified for the finals thanks to a hand ball from Thierry Henry in the playoff win over Ireland.
"After all, this team who have failed so lamentably only qualified for the finals under the cloud of cheating," it said.