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. fbysea

    As a French national, I am totally embarrassed and want to aplogize to the South African coach over Mr. Domenech's refusal to shake his hand. That behaviour alone, explains why les Bleus failed to impress. Shame on you, Mr. Domenech!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elliott

      Well said. And good for you for saying it. This has nothing to do with entire nations. It has to do with boorish behavior by the French football team and their coaches. Shame on them.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CATom

    There are hardly any french players on the french team. Sounds more muslim than anything else.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mariposa

    Bye, bye, you pompous froggies!

    June 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pablo

    The Irish would not have embarrassed themslves this way

    June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Because they'd be passed out drunk on the floor.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Martin Samuels

    There's something so French about this

    June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fred L. Fraud

    What a pathetic loser! This guy is an adult?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bob

    It's expected – it's France....the rude country.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jessica

    "Only the French can fail so well." -ESPN

    June 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex

    "Tarnished the image of France," according to L'Equipe.

    The French have only image, and that is one of a nation of weak, scared pansies.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • MoodyMoody

      Domenech did more to tarnish the image of France than the players did. Refusing to shake hands with the other coach is a total lack of sportsmanship. I hope he never has anything to do with soccer in any capacity again.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. damebochie

    One word: Loser!!!
    If you lose, the least you can do is accpeting your lost with dignity.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. OARFNY

    So, the French didn't win any games, the players went on strike, one of the coaches quit, the other coach wouldn't shake hands with ther Host country's team...............sounds normal for the French. What's the story?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tssshhh.

    Congratulations South Africa. Shame on you Pepe Le' Pew!

    June 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mattski

    Whoa this coach has issues. Sounds like France's Bobby Knight.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jamesnix

    It's the french, what did you expect?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Big Al

    C’est vraiment moche, toute ça ! Mais la question qu’on peut poser (comme je ne suis pas français) c’est comment « Ray le Fou » pouvait être même engagé comme leur entraîneur national ! Personalement, je n’ai rien à foutre. Demain c’est les states contre l’Algérie. Vive l’USA !!!

    June 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • damebochie

      Question vraiment intéressante! Ce mec est débile et ce n'est pas la première fois qu'il l'a démontré. Moi je dis " Enfin bon débarras" J'en avais marre de l'équipe Française dans ce mondial.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
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