Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka was suspended from the France national soccer team for 18 games for his role in a players’ strike during the World Cup, a punishment that may signal the end of his international career.
Captain Patrice Evra was banned for five games, Franck Ribery for three matches and Jeremy Toulalan for one game by the French Football Federation’s disciplinary committee, the ruling body said in a statement on its website after a hearing today. Eric Abidal was not sanctioned, the statement said.
Anelka has scored 14 goals in 69 games for France.
The 31-year-old was sent home from South Africa after insulting coach Raymond Domenech at halftime of a 2-0 loss to Mexico in Polokwane on June 17. The entire 23-man France squad then refused to train before its final group-stage game against the host nation in Bloemfontein, a 2-1 loss which saw the French eliminated without winning a match.
Manchester United’s Evra, Barcelona’s Abidal and Lyon’s Toulalan appeared at the hearing today. Anelka and Ribery, whose club Bayern Munich refused to release him, did not attend.
Laurent Blanc, who took over from Domenech following the World Cup, suspended the entire squad for France’s Aug. 11 exhibition game against Norway. France starts qualifying for the 2012 European Championship against Belarus on Sept. 3 and Bosnia four days later.