World Cup: France’s captain, five others benched from starting lineup
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As expected, French captain Patrice Evra was held out of the starting lineup for his country’s group-play finale with South Africa on Tuesday in Bloemfontein.
Evra has been blamed for leading the player rebellion against Coach Raymond Domenech and the French soccer federation over the expulsion of striker Nicolas Anelka.
South Africa entered the game on the brink of the worst-ever performance by World Cup hosts. And former champion France, the runner-up in 2006, has been torn by one of the most extraordinary scandals seen in a World Cup. The mutiny, which included a team boycott of Sunday’s practice, has disgusted fans at home and has led some companies to end sponsorship deals with the team and Anelka, who had been sent home after a profane verbal attack on Domenech last week.
Evra’s absence was among six lineup changes from the team Domenech used in France’s last game with Mexico.
‘Words would not help now, we need action,’ Domenech said. ‘The players must bring answers on the pitch. How they will be remembered depends on how they will fare against South Africa.’
Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot, dispatched by President Nicolas Sarkozy to try to end the crisis, told the players they had tarnished the nation’s image.
-- Kevin Baxter, in Rustenburg, South Africa