French press put boot into "laughing stock" team

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PARIS (Reuters) -- The French press reacted with a mixture of anger, sorrow and irony on Wednesday over the ignominious World Cup exit of the national soccer team, which finished bottom of its group after failing to win a match.

Much of the blame was pinned on team coach Raymond Domenech, but the players and the French soccer federation also came in for considerable criticism, with widespread calls for a new broom to sweep clean the domestic sport.

Here are some of the comments found in national and regional newspapers.


Under a front page banner headline "The End of a World," France's premier sports daily wrote: "This is an unbelievable rout for Raymond Domenech ... To take people for imbeciles might be an amusing game, but you have to know when to stop. Provocation is a subtle art and no doubt a form of intelligence, but only if it is not stained by haughtiness and arrogance."

The paper also urged the government to shake up the French soccer federation "so that it is no longer in the hands of these puppets."


"The image of 'Les Bleus' both on and off the field has been catastrophic. In 11 days of competition, Raymond Domenech's gang has succeeded in becoming the laughing stock of the entire world, a mix of arrogance, incompetence, a lack of talent and professionalism."


"This tragi-comedy has finally come to an end ... It goes without saying that those who are responsible have to face up to the consequences of this historic fiasco for French soccer ... The collapse of the French team is also a failure for the cynicism which poisons football like so many other professions."

LE PARISIEN "The French team's apocalyptical World Cup ends in a manner that is both desperate and nightmarish -- a logical conclusion to an attitude and a game that was unworthy, shameful and revolting. Thanks guys, you have ruined this nascent summer for the French who were counting on you to help them forget their daily worries. ... (Domenech's) disappearance from the footballing landscape is the only good news of the day."


"It is a cavalry where the death knell has tolled for the fiasco of a generation of mercenary, fragile French players, who are out of step with the reality which encircles them."


"Rarely has defeat been greeted with such relief. As if it was urgent to put an end to this cavalry, to lance this unbearable abscess, to no longer offer this spectacle to the rest of the world and move on to something else. ... It would have been better if Les Bleus had never gone to South Africa. Without doubt, the descent to hell has not yet finished."


"This failure is first and foremost the story of millionaire stars aged 24 and 25, the story of kids who grew up too quickly, far from real problems. Youths with outsized egos who were gathered together for months in a claustrophobic environment."