rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » Country of love close hearts to dull France World Cup side

Country of love close hearts to dull France World Cup side

Last updated on: June 8, 2010 12:13 IST

'We try to find the strength we need within ourselves'

     Next

Next

France, proud of their reputation as the country of love, are certainly not living up to it these days when it comes to their national football team.

The days when the glitzy Champs Elysees avenue was swarming with people wildly celebrating France's 1998 World Cup triumph are long gone and the side preparing for the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa could be excused for feeling let down.

Two years of uninspired performances have taken their toll, not to mention an uncompromising coach revelling in controversy, a few scandals and players perceived as distant if not arrogant.

"It's been going on for two years and it's certainly not making things easier for us," forward Sidney Govou told reporters Monday when asked what is like to be hated.

"We have been criticised quite a lot but it's not always a good thing to listen to what's being said outside. We try to find the strength we need within ourselves," he added.


Image: French national team during a practice session
Photographs: Reuters
     Next

Only 19 per cent believe France will win

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The country's discontent with a few men in shorts was illustrated again Sunday when sports junior minister Rama Yade said France had picked a hotel far too flashy as their World Cup base.

The same day 1998 world champion Marcel Desailly wrote in a column in a South African newspaper that France would not survive the group stage and Monday, a poll showed only 19 per cent believing their team would lift the trophy.

The survey, conducted for popular daily Le Parisien, was the latest of many showing France no longer stood behind their team.


Image: Coach Raymond Domenech alongwith French players

Prev     Next

Controversies haunt France

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The love story between the country and the national side turned sour when France made an early exit from Euro 2008 and what has happened since has done nothing to reverse the trend.

Coach Raymond Domenech, never interested in being popular, was controversially left in charge after that flop and has kept annoying people with his trademark mix of undecipherable comments and dry remarks.

To make matters worse, his side kept struggling on the pitch, needing that infamous Thierry Henry handball to qualify for the World Cup through a playoff at the expense of Ireland.

Several players, including the talismanic Franck Ribery, were then heard as witnesses by police investigating a prostitution network.

The news that France were staying at a secluded fortress for the rich and famous was the straw that broke the camel's back.


Image: Raymond Domenech and William Gallas

Prev     Next

'Other teams respect and fear us'

Prev     More
Prev

More

Since arriving in South Africa, Domenech has told reporters he came to speak to them only because he was obliged to and the players have not been good at signing autographs.

It would not take much, however, for the romantic Frenchmen to fall in love with their team again. A few autographs here and there and a couple of spirited performances should do the trick.

"The media say the supporters do not believe in us but I know they do and I also know other teams respect and fear us," Patrice Evra, the new France captain, told reporters during the team's World Cup preparations.

"Everybody seems to believe that we're going on a safari, that we are not among the favourites, but our pride can help us go places," he added.


Image: Thierry Henry and Franck Ribery

Prev     More
Source:
© Copyright 2013 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.