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France coach Blanc drops all 23 WCup players

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In this July 6, 2010, file photo, new France soccer coach Laurent Blanc reacts during a news conference in Paris. In this July 6, 2010, file photo, new France soccer coach Laurent Blanc reacts during a news conference in Paris.

PARIS (AP) — France coach Laurent Blanc will drop all 23 World Cup players for his first match in charge next month as collective punishment for the team's embarrassing fiasco in South Africa.

The French federation said Friday in a statement it had granted Blanc permission to suspend the players at the coach's request.

France was eliminated in the group stage at the World Cup, failing to win a game. The players also refused to train as a protest after Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home following an expletive-laced tirade at then coach Raymond Domenech.

Blanc refused to speak to reporters when he left the federation's headquarters Friday.

France plays a friendly against Norway on Aug. 11 in Oslo and Blanc is set to announce his squad on Aug. 5.

France's disappointing performance in South Africa came after the team also failed to win a game at the 2008 European Championship, also under Domenech.

The French team endured days of chaos at the World Cup after L'Equipe newspaper published a rant by Anelka aimed toward Domenech at halftime of a 2-0 loss against Mexico, prompting the French federation to send him home.

The next day, the entire squad refused to train in protest and captain Patrice Evra had a lively altercation with the team's fitness coach that was captured on TV.

The events caused an outcry in France, with politicians harshly criticizing the players' attitude, legislators in parliament questioning the coach and even President Nicolas Sarkozy weighing in on the debacle.

Former international Lilian Thuram — France's most capped player — said Evra should never play for the team again after leading the boycott.

Outgoing federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes has launched an investigation into the players' actions. The commission should deliver its conclusions to the federation by Aug. 15.

Escalettes handed in his resignation earlier this month, and the federal council unanimously appointed Fernand Duchaussoy as caretaker president on Friday.

"I've just been elected by all French football families," said the 67-year-old Duchaussoy, referring to the amateurs and pros.

Duchaussoy said earlier this week it would be difficult for Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema to play for France after both players were issued preliminary charges for their alleged involvement in a sex scandal with an underage prostitute.

Duchaussoy added he will have a meeting with Domenech in the coming days and will ask him for an explanation over the players' poor results and attitude in South Africa.

"I am bitter about succeeding my friend Jean-Pierre Escalettes in a dark era for French football, which is going through a moral and sporting crisis," Duchaussoy said. "My first responsibility will be to restore confidence in football, in the federation and in the people wearing our colors."

___

AP Sports Writer Samuel Petrequin contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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