The time bomb had been ticking… it was just a matter of time before it exploded.
Unfortunately for French football fans, the explosion occurred during the World Cup, the biggest stage of all, and as a result the revolution has been televised.
As you probably know by now, on Sunday, France’s players refused to train in protest at the French Football Federation’s (FFF) decision to expel Nicolas Anelka without consulting them. Although I was surprised at the way the players decided to revolt, I was not surprised at all that there was a mutiny in the camp.
Let’s examine the sequence of events that has occurred since Euro 2008. Back then, France were knocked out in the group phase. Les Bleus were a fiasco, drawing with Romania and losing to both Holland (4-1) and Italy (2-0).
Following the final match, most people expected coach Raymond Domenech to resign. He didn’t. Instead, he took the opportunity to announce he was marrying his long-time girlfriend, and put France’s elimination in perspective, philosophizing about the meaning of life.
I don’t have to be the one to tell you that it was a bad move. After a poor campaign and reports of unrest in the squad, his peculiar performance at the final post-match press conference was the last straw. Most players lost their respect for him right there and then.
At that point, speculation intensified regarding Domenech’s future, and odds were that the FFF was going to sack him. It didn’t. Another mistake. At that moment, the national ruling body also lost the respect of its players.
So now, let’s fast-forward two years. Consider France’s poor qualifying campaign for the World Cup, their controversial playoff with Ireland, and the strange decision by Domenech and the Federation to leave out players such as Samir Nasri, Philippe Mexes and Karim Benzema from the final squad.
If that weren’t enough, shortly after arriving in South Africa, he dropped captain Thierry Henry to the bench and treated Anelka like a rookie. Something had to give…
So what now for France? First of all, Domenech should resign. Immediately. As should the FFF president and his staff. The fact they allowed this situation to have reached this breaking point is unacceptable.
Last but not least, the French players should apologize for their actions. Whether or not they believe they are right, they disrespected the name of their country and their fans.