France's FIFA World Cup™ campaign continues to be troublesome after the French Football Federation (FFF) announced there would be an official investigation following a player boycott yesterday.
Less than 24 hours after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for refusing to apologise for his verbal attack on coach Raymond Domenech the rest of the squad walked out of training in protest. The squad claimed they were united in support of the excluded Chelsea forward, complaining the 31-year-old had been treated unfairly by officials.
However, their actions did not impress the FFF, who have promised a investigation into what has become known as 'l'affaire Anelka' once the team's FIFA World Cup is over.
"The French delegation and its president Jean-Pierre Escalettes noted with dismay the refusal of the French players to participate in training," said a federation statement. This action is an unacceptable consequence of the eviction of Nicolas Anelka which they feel is unjust.
"Contrary to what the players said, this sanction was taken following a long conversation with the person in the presence of the captain (Patrice Evra). The FFF, speaking through its president, apologised to the country for the unacceptable conduct of the players that are representing our country. A federal council shall be convened immediately on the completion of the French team's campaign to draw all the conclusions of the crisis that has been created."
The walk-out was prompted by events on Saturday when Anelka was dismissed from the squad after he refused to say sorry for his outburst at Domenech. Anelka reportedly exploded in a foul-mouthed tirade after the coach criticised him for straying out of position during the goalless first half of their 2-0 Group A defeat to Mexico on Thursday.
Details of the exchange were then leaked to the media, leading Evra to claim there was a "traitor" within the camp. The players, already under pressure as a draw between Uruguay and Mexico on Tuesday will confirm France's elimination from the tournament irrespective of their result against hosts South Africa, issued their own statement yesterday.
"If we regret the incident that occurred at half-time of the match between France and Mexico we regret even more that an event which belongs within our group was made public," they said.
"For its part, the French Football Federation has at no time tried to protect the group. They made a decision without consulting all the players, only on the basis of the 'facts' reported by the press. Accordingly, and to mark their opposition to the highest level of French football, all players decided not to participate in the work-out. For our part, we have not forgotten our duties. We will do everything individually and also in a collective spirit to bring honour to France with a positive performance on Tuesday night."
However, the matter is far from closed as Domenech is likely to be bombarded with questions about the occurrences of the last few days at a scheduled press conference in Bloemfontein later today ahead of the match against South Africa.