Impossible to believe that the country which gave the world such an attractive, skillful and competitive team in 1998 and 2000 has now produced a bunch of sulking, brattish prima donnas. France could yet grab salvation from the jaws of humiliation. But results today have to go especially well for them, plenty of goals against South Africa and the hope that no Jimmy Hill figure is in charge of the PA system to ensure Mexico and Uruguay play out a draw. The headline is the closest I can get to translating last chance saloon …
The piece I had in today’s edition of The National (Abu Dhabi) was written more in sadness than with any kind of frogbashing relish.
Not every reader of Salut! Sunderland will shed too many tears at the downfall and, let’s be honest if blunt, disgrace of the French World Cup squad. Perhaps some would snigger at my younger daughter’s Facebook status update: ” … being half French, half English does not make for good times in this World Cup!”
I do not wish France well in today’s decisive Group A games because I think the juvenile antics of the squad merit anything other than an early flight home to general opprobrium. For the sake of my French relatives and friends, and my own fond memories of better times for Les Bleus, I am – without much enthusiasm – hoping the results do go their way today, though it is difficult to believe in sportsmanship, dignity and respect and want them to go very far in the rest of the tournament.
Kids look up to footballers. The French team have, by and large, set an atrocious role model. They can start to redeem themselves by knocking in three or four against the World Cup hosts this afternoon.
I won’t reproduce the whole of my report in the National, but the start will tell you whether you wish to click the link and read on …
The day after Zinédine Zidane butted the Italian player Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, his inevitable dismissal contributing to a French defeat, he joined teammates as a guest of Jacques Chirac, then president, at a homecoming reception at the Elysée.
If today’s results lead to France’s early departure from the 2010 tournament, it is difficult to imagine Nicolas Sarkozy throwing open the palace to a squad widely condemned for bringing disgrace on their country in South Africa.
Zidane’s gesture in Berlin was unprofessional and loutish, but France was quick to forgive, especially when it was reported that he had acted in response to a deeply offensive remark about his mother or sister. The Marseille-born son of Algerian immigrants, he has remained one of the country’s most popular celebrities.
Les Bleus of 2010 are in a league of their own, their disarray and indiscipline provoking indignation from politicians, outrage in the media and question marks about future commercial sponsorship.
The full article can be seen by clicking on this link. With thanks to Bill Taylor for the photo.