June 22nd, 2010
12:02 PM ET

South Africa beats France; both ousted from World Cup

It hasn’t been a storybook World Cup for the French – unless it’s a horror story.

After failing to prove in their first two games that they are one of FIFA’s top 10 teams, Les Bleus were summarily sent home from the Cup on Tuesday by the host, South Africa. Though hosts typically enjoy home-field advantages,
French media and fans will be reluctant to overlook that Bafana Bafana was ranked 83rd in the world when it took the pitch.

Following first-half goals from defender Bongani Khumalo and striker Katlego Mphela, South Africa played tight defense to hold on to a 2-1 win. France’s best effort came late in the 70th minute when a stint of dazzling passing ended with a Florent Malouda goal.

France could muster no more – and with that, the 2006 World Cup runner-up saw its ticket back to Paris stamped. South Africa also failed to qualify for the second round after Mexico advanced via a tiebreaker based on goals.

At the final whistle an angry coach Raymond Domenech refused to shake hands with South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and he later told reporters: "The overriding emotion is one of sadness.

"We would have liked the dream to have continued. I shook hands with the players because we have been through some difficult times together. We need to be dignified in victory and defeat."

Back in France, Les Bleus will almost certainly be met with boos and hissing as the team's run-up to Tuesday’s last group stage match was on par with a soap opera.

After reports that Domenech used the zodiac to pick his team, criticism erupted that he had left top players – including Arsenal’s Samir Nasri and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema – at home. Several media outlets have taken to calling the French coach “Crazy Ray.”

A halftime locker room argument between Domenech and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka ended with the prolific goal scorer being sent home after France's 2-0 loss against Mexico. Anelka's teammates later refused to practice in protest, and before Tuesday’s game, Domenech benched star defender Patrice Evra and stripped him of his captain’s armband. Domenech also benched several other star players.

It didn't help team solidarity that the French conditioning coach, as well as French Football Federation Director Jean-Louis Valentin, quit during the group stage.

French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot had been in France attempting to mediate between Domenech and his players. But on Monday night Bachelot told journalists the French players had "tarnished the image of France," according to French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

Domenech further said that his players' decision to strike was "unspeakably stupid." He called their actions "an aberration and an imbecility."

The group stage saga, of course, follows the infamous “hand of frog" incident, in which a handball by striker Thierry Henry resulted in a French goal that booted the Irish national team from the tournament.

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soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Mike K

    The French coach refused to shake the hand of the coach of the host nation. How dignified. Mssr Domenech, here's a bit of free advice: never argue or exhibit petulant behavior from a position of extreme weakness. Your refusal was the last remaining gesture possible that could make your pathetic condition worse. You should have resisted that one.

    June 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny

    Is there any real "French" left in the French team ?
    French like... white ?

    June 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nunya

    Who, I mean WHO really cares. I have often wondered "why" world cup isn't played every year. Now I "know" why. The 'sport" (ahem...!) is so friggin boring we couldn't handle it every year!!! These guys are wimps!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris1971

      Thanksfor speaking for all of us. I say that in jest, I know that you would not grasp that unless I spelle it out for you.

      June 22, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Richard

    I applaud the French team for standing for their principles, sometimes it's important to be honest. It's a lesson I wish President Obama would learn.

    June 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris1971

      So Dick – What is the principle upon which the French are standing? That one should disrespect another when he has been invited into the other's home and shown hospitality? And how the hell did you turn thios into an Obama remark? Goes to show that your mother knew who you were going to grow up to be, when she thought about which nickname would suit you best when you got older.

      June 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tweet Bird

    As a duel citizen of both France and the United States I'm ashamed of the way my fellow frenchmen have acted in front of the whole world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But, I 'm curious too?... When did the french turn Black? Oh thats right about the same time my state of Texas turned Mexican!!!!!!!!!!! I'm profiling!!!!!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ugh

    This is why nobody likes the French, what a moron!

    June 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • kmphilippe

      The French team didn't perform well, granted - but why such discriminatory and abusive commentary about the people of France? Case in point, racism still exists. People are people, no matter the race, color, or nation they come from. You're no better than they are. I take offense to your comments.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |

    What do you expect from the French?

    June 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    a rude frenchman....well I never.....

    Seriously, the french should be banned from the next world cup for such a pathetic show of sportsmanship

    June 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chris1971

    The French often times show a lack of class. Of course, most of them look down their noses at Americans, and think we all are fat, loud tourists. Even after we have baled them out of two world wars, where they could not even defend themsleves for more than a week. Sometimes, I am ashamed to have a French last name.

    June 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • kmphilippe

      Your comment is in fact disrespectful. I wonder how many French people you actually *know.* Should I think all Americans are rapists like Lawrence Taylor or crazy and violent like Mike Tyson? No, and they're not any more rude and prejudiced than you.

      June 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark

    Ahh yes.....France once again shows how truly rude they are as a culture. And to think, they screwed Ireland out of the WC spot they obviously couldn't give a rat's ass about. Les Français sont grossiers et arrogants. Bonne riddence.

    June 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • A French...

      What a shame!!! How could you say something like that! Shame on you ! You create a wrong like between french people and players, we DISAGREE with this kind of football.
      Proud to be French, but not to have this football team.

      June 23, 2010 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. heheeh

    i live in NY , not american... they play soccer in usa???? everybody shut his mouth.. i am sure 99 % of people here don t know rules and play.. and yu even don t understand what happen in France.!!!! at least in France the education is free, american when i see yur comments ,, i guess yur brain need to grow up and be cultured.and stop racist...

    June 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DanBr

    All these comments against The French People are no more that Racist comments. How a whole nation can be mixed up with a soccer national team. C'est de la crétinerie à l'état pur! We are the ones ( The French ) who've got to cope with this mess ( our shameful national team ; they never represent our nation; never ! ).

    June 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • kmphilippe

      Je suis d'accord DanBr, je commence a en avoir marre. Ce n'est pas trop surprenant, par contre ce sont les premiers a critiquer qui partent en vacances a Paris !!

      June 22, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. A French...

    Hye, I'm french and i know that what they did was really bad.
    But please, French and players aren't the same!!! What you wrote is just amazing, i disagree with some comment. French DO NOT support this kind of play, we do not support how Domenech was rude, and what a shame on those players and that coach, but not on every french people!
    I love France, I didn't like football but now i hate it. But they're is no link between those players and our beautiful nation.

    June 23, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
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