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Players arrive for judgement

PARIS, August 17 – Two of the five players summonsed to a hearing by the French Football Federation (FFF) over the strike that shamed the World Cup finals squad arrived early Tuesday for their day of reckoning.
World Cup captain Patrice Evra – who had an early start after playing impressively for Manchester United on Monday night in the 3-0 canter over Newcastle – and Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan, who was responsible for wording the statement which was humiliatingly read out by then coach Raymond Domenech were seen arriving.

Toulalan compiled the letter with his press advisor when the players – some less willing than others – chose to strike in one of their final training sessions ahead of their last group match with hosts South Africa in protest at the expulsion from the squad of striker Nicolas Anelka for a foul mouthed outburst at Domenech at half-time of the match with Mexico.

The other three players called to appear before the disciplinary commission vice-captain Franck Ribery, Barcelona defender Eric Abidal and Anelka had not yet arrived, though only Abidal was expected to turn up as Ribery’s club Bayern Munich refused to release him.

Among those due to testify was former deputy managing director of the FFF Jean-Louis Valentin, who was one of the few to emerge with his dignity intact at the finals having quit in tears in disgust the day they went on strike.

"We are slowly emerging from an episode that must never be repeated," said Valentin on arriving at the FFF headquarters.

"I await more an acceptance of their responsibilities than punishment. I will simply tell the truth."

Domenech, who the FFF are seeking to sack altogether from his contract with the National Technical Direction (DTN) without paying him any compensation for what is perceived to be behaviour unbecoming of a French national coach, ran into the building while former FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes also arrived.

The commission is expected to announce their findings either on Tuesday evening or on Wednesday morning.

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