In a drastic, but somewhat understandable step the French Football Federation has upon the request from new coach Laurant Blanc suspended all 23 players from the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad for their next international friendly. In that match France will take on Norway in Oslo and Blanc will have to put together an altogether new squad of 18 to 20 players.
Blanc wants a fresh start and also wants the players to think about what they had done in South Africa. France had finished bottom of their group with one draw and two losses. And if this wasn't bad enough then there was the case of striker Nicolas Anelka abusing coach Raymond Domenech at half time of the match against Mexico, which resulted in the Chelsea player being send home. And tension grew further in the French team as captain Patrice Evra in a press conference told the media that the Anelka incidence was unfortunate, but the real problem is that team internals were being given to the media and the traitor needed to be found. So far no one has been named to have been the traitor, but this tension led to the players going on strike. And in am embarrassing situation with coach Domenech forced to read out the teams statement to the present media.
Blanc, who had been named as Domenech's successor, must have watched the matches and these off the field occurrences with horror. Maybe he was even thinking why I am leaving Girondins de Bordeaux for this bunch. But the 1998 World Cup winning captain has proved at his club that he is an able coach, but getting France in line and getting a team together will be a tough ask.
The suspended players will only get a chance to redeem themselves on September 3, but then again in a competitive match in a 2012 European Championship qualifier against Belarus. And who knows if some of the players left out or the young player might take their chance and prove their worth to coach Blanc against Norway and some established players career for Les Bleues is at least for the moment over.
But the worries for French football don't end here. As part of investigations against a prostitution ring offering minors to high profile clients French footballers Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema have been implicated by the French authorities. And other players are said to have also availed of the services and could be named soon. Some French politicians say such behaviour isn't suitable for stars to represent the French L'Equipe Tricolore and have asked these players not to be nominated by the FFF and the coach.
Difficult times for French football...