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New French football coach grounds squad
New France coach Laurent Blanc Friday punished the country's disastrous World Cup squad by dropping all 23 players in next month’s friendly against Norway. The decision was approved by the French Football Federation's [FFF] federal council after a meeting with Blanc in Paris.
France suffered a miserable World Cup campaign in South Africa. Striker Nicolas Anelka's was expelled after his foul-mouthed tirade at former coach Raymond Domenech. The episode was followed by infighting, and the players' refusal to train.
'Les Bleus' returned home in ignominy after failing to win any of their first round games, with Domenech refusing to shake South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parriera's hand following the final defeat to the hosts.
Blanc, who will release his squad for the Norway game on 5 August, refused to elaborate on his decision to boycott the World Cup squad. But at his first press conference earlier this month, he hinted at consequences for the World Cup meltdown.
France football has endured a woeful year with Thierry Henry's controversial handball which put France into the World Cup at the expense of Ireland in the play-offs, their pitiful display in the competition itself, and then the scandal involving Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema who were this week put under investigation on charges of having sex with an under-age prostitute.
The crisis that engulfed Domenech's last mission as national coach resulted in the resignation of FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, with his successor due to be unveiled on Friday.