Adding to the poor results, the French players made matters even worse with their unprofessional and disrespectful behaviour towards their supporters and, more alarmingly, their country. The refusal of players to train on Sunday prompted a full-scale reaction from various figures including the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy. French Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot referred to the actions of the players as a “moral disaster” and lambasted them for tarnishing France’s image and for failing to set example for children. With off the pitch controversies dominating the news, the players failed to calm the storm with a lackluster performance against South Africa as the hosts ended their participation on a high with a 2-1 victory over the rudderless French.
The referee’s decision to send-off Yoann Gourcuff for an elbow inside the South African penalty area did deserve a yellow card but did not appear intentional to merit a red card. This perhaps summarised France’s tournament best: promising potential yet little to show for it in terms of results. One major figure to blame is Coach Raymond Domenech who made some odd decisions excluding veteran Patrick Vieira as well as Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema. Reports claim Benzema and Nasri did not get along with veteran players such as William Gallas giving Domenech ample room to omit them without destabilising the French camp. The Coach’s inability and poor tactics were evident in Euro 2008 yet Nasri and Benzema were singled out for criticism despite the Real Madrid striker being one of the very few French players showing signs of life. Domenech should have taken a stance selecting players based on merit as banishing Benzema should have meant the exclusion of Henry since France‘s all-time leading scorer barely featured for Barcelona during the season. Considering the struggles up front and the lack of goals, the Coach should have been wise enough to give Nasri and Benzema the chance to co-exist with the squad as they are in their 20s while Gallas and Henry are nearing the end of their playing career.
Domenech ignored the troubling signs against China despite rumours of Nicolas Anelka’s and Franck Ribery’s refusal to link up with Gourcuff and Sidney Govou. Speaking of the latter, what on earth was Domenech thinking by regularly starting a player who is suited for a minor role at best? The Lyon winger who turns 31 next month has played almost 50 games for France managing just 10 goals and constantly failing to impress. The unpopular Tactician took a massive gamble prior to the World Cup by opting to pick only J