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Evra and Ribery's names booed on France return

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PARIS (Reuters) -- Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery's names were booed by the crowd when the France v Croatia teams were read out on Tuesday as the World Cup rebels were included on the bench for their first home game since the South Africa debacle.

Evra and Ribery were suspended for five and three matches respectively for their involvement in the World Cup fiasco when France players went on strike to support Nicolas Anelka, who was kicked out for insulting then coach Raymond Domenech.

The stadium announcer read the substitutes' names at an unusually fast pace and the picture of the players sitting on the France bench disappeared from the big screen.

TV crews and photographers, who had anticipated the crowd's reaction, had gathered around the France bench when the speaker read out the teams.

Fans hanging around the Stade de France before the friendly had not forgotten the South Africa affair.

Amir, a 32-year-old shop assistant enjoying a kebab, told Reuters in light drizzle: "Why not recall them, maybe it's time to move on. But obviously, I would not mind if they were not there."

Ahmed, an unemployed 27-year-old, was more angry.

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"These guys make crazy money just to kick a ball while we all struggle to make ends meet," he said.

"And what do they do? They blow up our World Cup, it's ridiculous."

Paul, a 54-year-old soccer coach, was just as scathing.

"They did not exactly set an example and today, they come back a bit as if nothing had happened," he said.

"Ribery is not Zidane, is he? We can do without him. I'm furious."

The loudest boos, however, were aimed at Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, who had France boss Laurent Blanc sent off in the 1998 World Cup semi-final when he theatrically fell on the pitch after being barely touched by the then defender.

France won the game 2-1 before lifting the World Cup by beating Brazil 3-0 at the Stade de France final.