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Five Striking French World Cup Players to Face Discipline Board

Five members of the 2010 French World Cup team will appear in front of a disciplinary committee for their role in a players’ strike during the tournament.

The French Football Federation committee will meet later this month to decide what measures to take against striker Nicolas Anelka, defender Eric Abidal, defender and team captain Patrice Evra, winger Franck Ribery and midfielder Jeremy Toulalon.

“These five players were selected because each claimed a key role in the strike,” Laurent Davenas, a judge who was appointed to a three-person panel that looked into the team’s behavior at the World Cup, told reporters after he left a FFF board meeting today in Paris.

The entire 23-man World Cup squad refused to train June 20 to protest Anelka being sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech during halftime of a 2-0 loss to Mexico. France, world champions in 1998, was eliminated in the first round in South Africa with two losses and a draw. Anelka’s expletives ended up on the front page of daily sports newspaper l’Equipe.

Bayern Munich’s Ribery, Barcelona’s Abidal, and Manchester United’s Evra were seen as ringleaders of the strike, while Olympique Lyonnais’s Toulalan wrote the letter that explained the reasons for the strike.

Lilian Thuram, a member of the 1998 team and a FFF board member, said some players might have not joined the strike if they’d known more details.

“Not all the players knew that Anelka had been given two chances to apologize for his comments, and had refused,” Thuram said. “I think that might have changed things.”

Excluded Players

Laurent Blanc, who took over as national team coach after the World Cup, excluded players from South Africa in the team he announced yesterday for an Aug. 11 exhibition against Norway. At a press conference, Blanc argued against any collective punishments beyond the game in Oslo.

“I have a job to do which is to qualify the team for the European Championships and I need my strongest elements,” he said.

France starts its qualifying matches for Euro 2012 against Belarus on Sept. 3 and Bosnia on Sept. 7.

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