After secret hearings, France ready to put World Cup behind it

After the French team imploded at the World Cup, the French national parliament held two secret inquiries this week into the catostrophe!

Charles Platiau/Reuters
French World Cup players, Djibril Cisse and Abou Diaby (R), react after their teammate Yoann Gourcuff was handed a red card during their 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match vs. South Africa at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein June 22.

Il y en a marre! Enough already! Let it stop!

In France, everyone is quite aware that the French soccer team, Les Bleus, self-destructed at the World Cup. Ordinary French are quite upset, but are now ready to turn the page. Assez!

Unfortunately, that page is turning slowly. This week the French national parliament – twice warned by international soccer federation (FIFA) chief Sepp Blatter to not interfere with the sport – went ahead anyway in secret questioning sessions with two team officials.

The move put President Nicolas Sarkozy at odds with Prime Minister Francois Fillon over whether the nation’s soccer woes needed a federal hand in recovery. And President Barak Obama thinks he has problems with BP.

IN PICTURES: Top 12 Goals of the Second Week and Top 10 Goals of the First Week

Columnist Christophe Berti, writing for Le Soir in Brussels, noted: "We thought we had seen everything in terms of ridicule...with the epic of France in South Africa. But having touched the bottom of the pool the French decided to dig further ... with this meaningless hearing at the National Assembly."

The meltdown of France in South Africa spawned a national debate here over the character of the team and the coach – though in two days of closed door hearing, the discussion was reduced to the twitter tweets of assembly member Lionel Tardy, or the “twitter traitor,” as he called himself.

And the French public was treated to the thoughts of outgoing national soccer president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, who, while in South Africa, confronted team players who had locked themselves in a bus to protest another player sent home for cursing at the coach. “Hard for me, bus of shame, spoilt and rotten kids, discipline...”

Victor Hugo, it was not. Postmodern haiku, maybe?

Fortunately, tomorrow is literally another day in the annals of French soccer: The coach of the 2010 World Cup meltdown team, Raymond Domenech, has been sent packing. The new coach is Laurent Blanc, in whom French soccer glory hopes may again spring eternal.

Mr. Blanc is already a popular choice. He was a white member of the famed 1998 World Cup French team that prided itself as integrated “black, blanc, beur” or “African, white, Arab.” Blanc scored a “golden goal” against Paraguay in that World Cup. As a coach, he is nicknamed “Le President” and known as the guy who restored the Bordeaux team to its former greatness; last year the club won the French championship.

As the week wound down, one sports broadcaster, noting that the 2010 Les Bleus have agreed not to divvy up some $6 million in sponsors bonuses, added that they should be happy – considering the fate of the Nigerian team.

On Wednesday, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan suspended for two years the national team for its poor play. The French analyst continued, “and we don’t even know the fate of the North Korean team.”

IN PICTURES: Top 12 Goals of the Second Week and Top 10 Goals of the First Week


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