Fri, July 02, 2010
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French soccer chiefs face parliament

2010-07-01 09:55:33 GMT2010-07-01 17:55:33 (Beijing Time)

France's parliament grills the coach of the embarrassed French national soccer team and head of the sport's national federation

The French parliament demands answers after an embarrassing World Cup campaign.

Team coach Raymond Domenech and French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes face the national assembly after a players' strike tarnished the country's image.

Escalettes resigned as a result of the scandal and Domenech leaves because his contract expired.

A parliamentarian describes the importance of the issue in France:

(SOUNDBITE) (French) JEAN-FRANCOIS COPE, LEADER OF UMP PARLIAMENTARY PARTY: "A lot of money is invested in soccer. So it's normal that the national representation understands the causes and consequences of the situation. The image of France is at stake here, the players don't sing the national anthem, they refuse to shake hands with their opponents and that's unacceptable."

The row began after Domenech sent home striker Nicolas Anelka for insulting him.

If that wasn't bad enough, captain Patrice Evra had a training-ground scuffle with fitness coach Robert Duverne.

The rest of the team boycotted the training session.

A miserable campaign ended after the 2006 runners-up crashed out of the first stage in South Africa after failing to win a game.

The head of FIFA issued a warning to France that mixing sports and politics could lead to punishment from soccer's international governing body.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA SECRETARY-GENERAL JEROME VALCKE: "They can find ways to make sure how this happened, they can apologise from the different people who have been involved, but definitely I told them that they should be very careful because anytime there is an interference FIFA will react, for France as as for any other country in the world."

If FIFA suspends France, the team would be banned from international play and French clubs could not take part in European competitions.


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