French football’s governing body, the FFF, has dealt suspensions to four national team players over a World Cup player revolt. Star striker Nicolas Anelka received the heftiest ban and must sit out 18 matches.
The ban could end Anelka's international career
Four senior French national team footballers have been suspended from representing the country in the wake of a players' revolt at the World Cup in South Africa, the French Football Federation (FFF) said Tuesday.
Star striker Nicolas Anelka, who plies his trade with Chelsea in the English Premier League, received the heftiest of the bans and will not be allowed to represent France for 18 games.
Anelka was sent home from the World Cup after launching a expletive-filled tirade against then-coach Raymond Domenech at halftime of France's eventual 2-0 group stage loss to Mexico. Domenech has since left the national team setup following France's last-place finish in their group.
The lengthy spell on the sidelines could mean the end of the 31-year-old Anelka's international career that has spanned over a decade.
"We wanted Anelka's sanction to set an example," FFF disciplinary commission president Jean Mazzella said after the special hearing.
France's World Cup captain Patrice Evra was banned alongside Anelka for leading a training session walkout during the tournament in support of his international teammate. The Manchester United defender must sit out five matches.
Evra supported Anelka following the tirade
The FFF also dealt bans to Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery, who will miss three matches, and Jeremy Toulanan of Lyon, who will sit out one match. Barcelona defender Eric Abidal escaped without sanction.
The five players had been called to appear before a special FFF hearing into the World Cup farce at the body's headquarters in Paris; however, Ribery and Anelka did not attend.
Former France team director Jean-Louis Valentin, who testified during the hearing, said the suspensions should send a clear message that dissention would not be tolerated in the national team setup.
"The players now realize that they should never have done such a thing," he said. "We have to acknowledge that they deserve another chance... Let's close this chapter and start another one."
Author: Darren Mara (Reuters/AFP)
Editor: Sarah Harman