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. RS Gompertz

    No Roads Lead to Rome for "Les Bleus"

    June 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • An SA in the USA

      You French should be ashamed of yourselves – Domenech refusing to shake hands with the SA coach?? He should have been sent home, not Anelka – Rude, useless excuse for a human being!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Possibilus

      Ahh...the poor French prove once again their expertise at surrendering.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ForFarkSakes

    South Africa can hold their heads high. They played a good game.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • jords

      Agreed!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • bird

      South Africa has every reason to be proud. They may not be continuing, but they have won the hearts of the world. France? GO HOME!!!!! and STAY THERE!!!!!!!

      June 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Amanda

    Thank you, South Africa!!!

    Too bad you couldn't move straight to the championship because of this!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sw6blues

    Full marks to Bafana Bafana for their performance and win today, but sad to see France fall apart as a team at the WC and leave in disgrace as they have done. Allez les Bleus, but they won't be the same for a while.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Goose

    This rediculous saga just reinforces the stupidity of FIFA permitting France to get to the World Cup by cheating Ireland out of that spot. Not only has the French team shown it's utter distain for soccer/football itself and the milions of fans around the world, FIFA itself has demonstrated its total disdain for sportsmanship and fairness. I know it is a business, but I hope that both the French team and FIFA will see complete overhauls, for the better in the future. Soccer/football is a great game, but these sordit events do absolutely nothing to promote the sport internationally to a younger generation.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • IVohbody

      DUDE! I forgot all about the Ireland handball game! What a shame that they were denied entry so we could all be witness to the French no-show.

      June 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Go Ireland. Glad the cheaters are out. Crazy Ray is apparently a petulant, grey-haired juvenile.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • J_Bird_01

      Amen brother!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Football Fan

      Well said Goose. Incidents like these and the refusal/inability of FIFA to punish players who act (as if they're made of cotton) takes away from the billions of fans who are so passionate about the game of Football. Why can't the players be banned if replay shows (post-game i.e.) that they were just putting on an act? That stops a lot of the obvious problem if not all, does it not? Taking action against the US-Slovenia referee is a good start but that's just one person on the filed the other 22 need to be on check as well.

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

    Good riddance to France. At least us Irish folks can have the last laugh. hahahaha.

    To Bafana Bafana good on you guys ! Hold your heads high!

    To All Whites of New Zealand go beat Paraguay! You can do it! Kia Kaha (be strong)!

    June 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • garc

      Hee hee hee, that's just what my Irish husband said. At last, some revenge.

      June 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrisa

      Latin America will win baby!!! yea!!!

      June 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davidlj

      I can't imagine why everyone is so suprised by the French team, just look at the French people, ya think?

      June 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      They still have teams called All Whites? I thought the USA was backwards.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guy Harvey

      Some silly xenophobic comments. Obviously because of the French national make up they can never will do well at soccer – oh whoops they won the World Cup in 98, finalist in 2002, Euro Champions in 2000 and brilliant team in 82 in the World Cup.
      The problem is with this group of players and the coach.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Nathan....hoping you aren't serious. The all whites is a play on their rugby team...the all blacks. And the USA is one of the few nations we can look to as a model for progress in this world.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Serj

      Whats wrong with you people...the statement has nothing to do with race....The "all whites" is the nickname of the national soccer team because of their uniform. The "all blacks" reflect the all black uniform that the rugby team uses. I agree that the world shoudlnt be racists...but also remember not everything that is "black" or "white" should be taken in such a manner...

      June 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. stevenabb

    Ohhh the French... so nice to have a nation around like that for commic relief in Europe.... I don't think Hollywood writters could make a more charming but disfunctional country.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Jeez, stevenabb, 3 spelling errors in 1.5 lines of text? Seriously? Invest in a dictionary and leave poor France alone.

      June 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      Hey is that all you could think of to defend France? Heh, they didn't even deserve to be in the world cup, so it's good to see how badly it ended up for them.

      June 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tully

    France qualified for the World Cup in a disgraceful manner.
    It is fitting that they are leaving in the same way.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • hoover

      100% agree!

      June 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mariposa

      Ditto!

      June 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cillian1977

    Congrats to Mexico and Uraguay!!! Viva Mexico!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Salut les blues!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AshD08

    GO Bafana Bafana! We are so proud of you!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • thom riddle

      YOUR ALL WINNERS!!!!!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havingclassalsomeanslearninghowtospell

      Thom, it's "they're".

      June 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. david

    Uruguay kicks ass! Go Forlan!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. goober

    Nice melt down...In front of the World!!! Someone, anyone should have stopped and yelled to all the members of that team all the way down to the trainers and ballboys and said "Stop!, We're being watched by the world!!!" Instead you had a modern day reality show sports opera unfolding in front of the camera's for the world to see.. Amazing...The human ego is simply amazing...

    June 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mariposa

      That's all the Frogs got!

      June 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Deuce

    'Bachelot told journalists the French players had "tarnished the image of France." ' Aren't the French players portraying the image of France?

    June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • repfrfn

      Since when are french people black?

      June 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mariposa

      That *is* the immage of France!

      June 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gman

    My question is, WHO CARES?

    June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      My answer is, millions of people around the world.

      Just because you don't care doesn't mean others don't. The world doesn't revolve you.

      June 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      I do. You don't care? Then don't click on the link. How hard is that?

      June 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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