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French melt down like a gooey Croque Monsieur
by Paul Kennedy, June 27th, 2012 3:16AM

TAGS:  european championship, france


If you know one French expression, it's probably "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

"The more things change, the more they stay the same" fits the French national team to a tee.

Two years after they boycotted a training session at the South African resort of Knysna, French players again melted down at Euro 2012 like a gooey Croque Monsieur.

The main culprit was Manchester City star Samir Nasri, a player so immature he was deemed unfit for the ill-fated trip to the 2010 World Cup.

The French sports daily L'Equipe reported Tuesday that Nasri faces a two-year ban from the national team for poor conduct at Euro 2012.

Even Nicolas Anelka, at the center of the 2010 mutiny for suggesting then-Coach Raymond Domenech could do something anatomically impossible, didn't get as long a ban.

After scoring the tying goal in the opening game against England, Nasri put his fingers over his mouth, ran over the sidelines and shouted out "Shut your big mouth" to a French journalist.

After France's loss to Spain, Nasri was involved in another incident with a French journalist, telling him the same thing Anelka told Domenech and then adding, "There, now you'll be able to say I've been badly brought up."

Nasri was believed to have been shunned by teammates after a poor game in the 2-0 loss to Sweden and dropped from the starting lineup for the quarterfinal match against Spain.

FFF president Noel Le Graet called Nasri's outburst after the Spain game "intolerable," while Coach Laurent Blanc called it "a lack of respect."

But the possible punitive measures the French are facing don't end with the possible Nasri ban.

Three other players -- Hatem Ben Arfa and Jeremy Menez, members along with Karim Benzema and Nasri of France's Generation 87, and Yann M’Vila -- are reported to being facing shorter bans for incidents during or after the Bleus' final two matches at Euro 2012.

At a time of high unemployment in France, politicians ridiculed player bonuses of $125,000 for reaching the quarterfinals. (That the Italians, who have reached the semifinals, have chosen to hand over their bonuses to victims of the recent earthquakes in Italy makes the Bleus look even worse.)

The behavior of the French players was especially embarrassing to Le Graet, who is seeking re-election this year. Asked before the tournament what words of wisdom he had for the players, he responded, "All I said to them was be friends."

Famous last words after M'Vila didn't shake the hands of his replacement, Olivier Giroud, in the Spain game, and Menez insulted captain Hugo Lloris, the Bleus' best player at the tournament, during the quarterfinal match.

Players like Nasri and Ben Arfa are stars with their English club teams but have long had problems with the French media, who believe they are high-priced divas with bad attitudes and a penchant for bling bling.

But bickering is nothing new to the French national team.

Four years ago, Nasri fell out with the leaders on the French team. His crime? Taking Thierry Henry's preferred seat on the bus. Nasri was so unpopular that Domenech didn't even include him on his short list of 30 players for South Africa, let alone the final 23.

But the most notorious case, never confirmed by the parties, of a pair of players who didn't get along took place 30 years ago.

Jean-Francois Larios, one of the best French players of his day, was mysteriously dropped from France's 1982 World Cup team, but rumors soon surfaced that the reason for his exit was he had been having an affair with the wife of French star Michel Platini, now the president of UEFA.

1 comment
  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: June 27, 2012 at 5:03 a.m.
    The truth is, left to their own devices, players at this level will pretty much always descend to this kind of permanent adolescent (think jr. high) behavior. And we all know it. It is why one often hears the best advice for young sports fans: "Never ever choose a chance to actually meet in person your sports hero. YOU WILL be disappointed." Think what John Terry has done (to teammates); think what "Icon?" Welschman Ryan Giggs did for years. I remember reading about German national team player Stefan Effenburg begging to borrow Dane Fiorentina player Brian Laudrup's hot new ultra high priced Italian sports car and then taking it without permission and wrecking it. Think Ribery and the FC Bayern bus in the UAE -- yes, he could have killed someone potentially. Remember the Romanian team that was given very good quality video equipment so they could make their own videos (behind the scenes) at World Cup 1994 in the USA. What they produced had to be immediately destroyed because it was so perverse. Several years ago the Czech National Team (nearly all of them married) carried on and cavorted in a drunken orgy with prostitutes during a training camp. Same for many on the Peruvian national team a few years ago. It is supposed to be hush-hush what English footballers do at their annual "Christmas" team parties. Well, it is no secret that nothing that occurs has anything to do with true good cheer or the Biblical story of the first Christmas. Truthfully a modern manager has to have a bit of drill sergeant in him (or the assistant does). Somebody has to be the stern disciplinarian overseer of a crop of louts. If we really knew what they are like, we wouldn't be watching -- at all.

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