BLOEMFONTEIN, June 22 – France left out captain Patrice Evra for their final group game against South Africa Tuesday after a bust-up over the expulsion of star striker Nicolas Anelka from the squad.Anelka was thrown out of the squad as punishment for his foul-mouthed outburst at coach Raymond Domenech during the 2-0 defeat to Mexico.
Manchester United defender Evra had been at the centre of drama on Sunday when the squad refused to train at their base in Knysna to protest the expulsion of the Chelsea player.
Domenech on Monday described the French players’ refusal to train "unspeakably stupid", saying he fully supported the decision taken by the French Football Federation (FFF) to banish the controversial Chelsea star.
Domenech appeared alone at the team’s pre-match press conference in Bloemfontein with Evra nowhere to be seen.
Evra had a shouting match with fitness coach Robert Duverne before the scheduled session on Sunday, leading Domenech to intervene. A furious Duverne stormed off and threw his stopwatch across the pitch in frustration, in full view of TV cameras.
The players’ mutiny prompted top FFF official Jean-Louis Valentin to resign, saying he was "disgusted" by the players.
Domenech read out a statement from the players expressing their opposition to the decision to kick Anelka out and said they deplored the way the dressing room bust-up between him and Domenech had been revealed by sports daily L’Equipe on Saturday.
To squeeze into the last 16, France must defeat South Africa by a wide margin on Tuesday and hope that the game between Uruguay and Mexico does not end in a stalemate.
France’s sports minister Roselyne Bachelot held a meeting with the players on Monday and told them they had damaged France’s image.