KNYSNA, June 20- France's disastrous World Cup campaign was plunged into fresh chaos on Sunday when the players refused to train in protest at the decision to send home star striker Nicolas Anelka.
Amid chaotic scenes at the team’s training base, the players released a statement protesting at the Chelsea striker’s exclusion from the squad for a foul-mouthed outburst during the defeat to Mexico which left France facing elimination.
"All the players in the French squad without exception wish to affirm their opposition to the decision taken by the French Football Federation to exclude Nicolas Anelka," said the statement.
The tensions in the French camp rose to the surface when the players travelled to the training pitch in Knysna in their bus, but – led by captain Patrice Evra – refused to start the session.
Manchester United defender Evra had a shouting match with France’s fitness coach Robert Duverne prior to the scheduled session, leading to embattled coach Raymond Domenech having to intervene.
A furious Duverne stormed off and threw his stopwatch towards the far end of the pitch in frustration, in full view of TV cameras.
The players’ refusal to train prompted top French Football Federation official Jean-Louis Valentin, whose job is to liaise between the team and the federation, to announce he was resigning.
"I am disgusted, I am quitting my post," Valentin told the assembled journalists watching the chaotic events unfold.
"I am ashamed, I am leaving immediately for Paris. What has happened is a scandal for the federation, for the French team and for the whole country. They do not want to train, it is unacceptable."
After the players’ letter was read out to journalists by Domenech, the players trooped back on to the bus to return to their hotel without starting the training session.
Anelka was sent home Saturday after refusing to apologise for an expletive-laden outburst at Domenech at half-time in the 2-0 defeat by Mexico on Thursday.
France, the 1998 winners and 2006 semi-finalists, are supposed to be preparing to face host nation South Africa on Tuesday in their final group Group A game.
But if Mexico and Uruguay draw their match, France are out of the tournament regardless of the result against South Africa.