If you thought things couldn't get any worse for the Equipe Tricolore at the 2010 FIFA World Cup after their opening draw against Uruguay and the loss to Mexico then you were wrong. Last time around in Germany France reached the finals and only lost the title in a penalty shootout against Italy. This time they are very far away from it. And now the World Cup has its first real scandal and as a result of it FC Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has been send home by the French Football Federation.
What has happened? According to French paper L'Equipe Anelka had said to coach Raymond Domenech at half time of the match against Mexico, "go f*** yourself, you dirty son of a whore."
Now sometimes in the heat of the action things are said which shouldn't be said or which people would not say otherwise. The next day Domenech actually offered Anelka the chance to say sorry, but the striker declined.
The whole issue was an internal matter of the French national team, but the abuse and the exact wording appeared in L'Equipe the next morning, and suddenly the whole issue was out in the open. A quick and tough decision by the FFF was needed as it otherwise would have send a wrong signal to the team.
Yesterday the French FF had to call an official press conference in South Africa to announce the departure of Anelka with FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes and captain Patrice Evra addressing the media. A big embarrassment for the French as even president Nicolas Sarkozy said that this was not acceptable. A person of authority could not be verbally abused in such a way.
At the press conference captain Patrice Evra said, "The problem of France is not Anelka, but the traitor among us. We must eliminate the traitor from the group, because he wants to hurt the team. There is no little mouse in the locker room, this comes from someone who is on the team and wants to hurt the team."
And this actually means the French have an even bigger problem. France just about made it to South Africa due to the controversial Thierry Henry handball against Ireland. And the team isn't a team with many players looking only after their own interests. The coach Raymond Domenech is gone after the World Cup and he is one of the most hated men in France, but the FFF over the last few years always renewed his contract though unpopular amongst his team and in public.
If you look at the French squad you will read names of top players who play for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but when they come together for France they just do not work together as a team. And that has also been heavily criticised by the great Zinedine Zidane.
France now face hosts South Africa in their last match and they would hope to finish the tournament on a positive note after all these negative events. And who nows, wonders are possible in football if France beat South Africa and in the other game Uruguay or Mexico score a win.