Last week, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, telephoned France’s national football coach, Domenech to wish him the best of luck for the critical match against South Africa.
On his Facebook site (with almost 250k followers), Sarkozy offered all the support necessary, adding that “the whole country, and all the French people are behind our players in this competition so that our team can carry our colours high with pride along with the values of French sport. ” President Sarkozy finished his blog with the traditional French football cry: “Allez les Bleus!”
The French president is to meet Thierry Henry at the Elysée Palace tomorrow to question him about the national team’s fiasco at the World Cup.
The French leader also called a crisis meeting of ministers over the debacle in South Africa as France left the World Cup in the first round.
But this is not a dressing-down conversation from Sarkozy. That honour would have been reserved for the now retired coach, Domenech. The meeting was requested by Henri, and Sarkozy has cleared an hour in his diary, in the middle of a national strike, to have a word.
Discontent, strikes, obscenities, under-age prostitutes, gossip and rumour have plagued the French football camp since before the start of the World Cup. Evra, the team captain, apologised to fans and swore that he and his team mates “would not take one centime” of their bonuses.
“I cannot forgive myself, but there was a reason for this failure. There were several reasons. And when they know the truth some people will forgive the French squad.”
“Apparently it was because I said something bad about the team before they qualified for the World Cup. Frankly I don’t remember! I don’t understand at all, but that’s what his colleagues told me. It’s lamentable.”
The honour of France and French sporting values are at stake at the behind the scenes match between the head of France and France’s top footballer. There may be blood on the carpet when the final whistle blows, but whose?