Soccer: Anelka thrown out of Cup for attack on coach

KNYSNA - France kicked striker Nicolas Anelka out of their World Cup squad overnight (NZT) after he launched a foul-mouthed tirade at coach Raymond Domenech at halftime of the 2-0 defeat to Mexico.

L'Equipe sports daily claimed the Chelsea forward told Domenech to "go screw yourself, dirty son of a whore" in the dressing room at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane after the coach criticised his first-half performance in Friday's match.

The France Football Federation (FFF) said 31-year-old Anelka would leave South Africa today after he refused to apologise for his "unacceptable" remarks.

"Anelka's remarks are totally unacceptable for the FFF, French football and the values it defends," said an FFF statement.

"Informed late in the evening on Friday about the serious incident at half-time in the match between France and Mexico, the president of the FFF, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, asked Nicolas Anelka, in the presence of captain Patrice Evra, to apologise.

"With the refusal of the player to publicly apologise, it was decided in full agreement with the coach and members of the delegation in Knysna to exclude Nicolas Anelka from the squad.

"He will leave the French training camp tonight."

FFF vice-president Noel Le Graet said Anelka's behaviour was even more inexplicable because Domenech has championed the cause of the 31-year-old striker over the past two years even when his performances for France had been criticised.

"I find it unbelievable, because if anyone has protected Anelka, it has been Domenech," Le Graet said.

"Domenech has played Anelka throughout the past two years."

Anelka's tirade came after Domenech told Anelka to stop straying out of position against Mexico after a first half when France barely threatened the Mexican goal, L'Equipe reported.

When Anelka took issue with the criticism, Domenech threatened to substitute him, prompting the player to make his foul-mouthed outburst, the newspaper said.

Domenech replaced Anelka with Andre-Pierre Gignac for the second half of the match, but Mexico went on to secure victory with two second-half goals, leaving France - the beaten finalists four years ago - staring elimination in the face.

If their Group A rivals Uruguay and Mexico draw in their match on Wednesday, the French will fail to qualify for the last 16 of the tournament regardless of their own result against host nation South Africa.

Anelka's dismissal from the squad comes amid a dreadful World Cup for France, whose camp has reportedly been riven with disputes between Domenech and his players.

Domenech was reported to have clashed with striker Florent Malouda earlier in the tournament, although the player and team management denied there had been a problem.

Anelka has scored 14 times for France in 71 internationals and Domenech started him in attack in France's first match of the tournament, a 0-0 draw with Uruguay when he was substituted after 72 minutes, and in the Mexico match.

The much-travelled striker, who has played for eight clubs in his career, was a key part of the Chelsea team which won a Premier League and FA Cup double this season.

But past disagreements with coaches led British tabloids to christen him "The Incredible Sulk".

In France, the Quick burger restaurant chain announced today it would withdraw advertising material featuring Anelka.

- AFP

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