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France suspends four players

World Cup tirade stunned leaders

Associated Press / August 18, 2010

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Nicolas Anelka’s profane tirade at the World Cup may have been his last act with the French national team.

He was suspended for 18 games yesterday in Paris, one of four players banned by the French soccer federation for a World Cup mutiny that was criticized by President Nicolas Sarkozy and underlined an embarrassing first-round exit.

The federation also handed suspensions — subject to appeal — to former captain Patrice Evra (five games), Franck Ribery (three games), and Jeremy Toulalan (one game). Eric Abidal, the fifth player at the four-hour hearing, escaped punishment.

Anelka’s suspension is expected to last nearly two years. By the time the 2012 European Championship comes around, he will be 33 and possibly too old to make the team — if the French qualify.

“[The players] are a bit bruised by the way things unfolded,’’ said Jean Mazzella, president of the disciplinary commission. “They didn’t think it would take on the proportions that it has, that’s for sure.’’

The players already have been punished financially, with the federation withholding World Cup bonuses.

All 23 players on the World Cup squad boycotted a training session in South Africa to protest Anelka’s expulsion after he insulted then-coach Raymond Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico.

The federation called only the five players who played a leading role in the strike. Ribery and Anelka — whose locker-room outburst triggered the protest — sent lawyers. Ribery, vice captain at the World Cup, did not attend the hearing because Bayern Munich refused to release him before its opening Bundesliga game Friday.

Tottenham loses
Young Boys held on for a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur to spoil the London club’s Champions League debut as both teams seek a spot in the group stages for the first time.

Young Boys went up, 3-0, after 28 minutes on their artificial pitch at the Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland, last night before Tottenham scored twice to get back into the two-game qualifying playoff. The return match is Aug. 25.

Zilina, Zenit St. Petersburg, and Rosenborg also won playoff openers in European soccer’s elite club competition. Dynamo Kiev rallied to tie four-time champion Ajax, 1-1.

Cameroon gets coach
Former Spain coach Javier Clemente was hired as Cameroon’s coach following a World Cup in which the Indomitable Lions lost all three first-round games. Clemente succeeds Paul Le Guen, who resigned in June. The Cameroon soccer federation said Clemente, 60, agreed to a two-year contract . . . Juan de Dios Castillo is Honduras’s new national team coach, replacing Reinaldo Rueda, who guided the Central Americans at the recent World Cup. The 59-year-old Mexican will debut with the national team Sept. 3 in a friendly against El Salvador in Los Angeles . . . Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni was released from the hospital a week after undergoing surgery for abdominal pain.

Beat fires coaches
The expansion Atlanta Beat fired coach Gareth O’Sullivan with the Women’s Professional Soccer team mired in last place with four wins and 17 points through 19 games. Coming off its third straight loss, general manager Shawn McGee announced O’Sullivan and assistant coach Robbie Nicholson had been relieved of their duties. James Galanis was named interim head coach.

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