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French players might sit

JOHANNESBURG — The soap opera swirling around the French World Cup team took another bizarre turn when coach Raymond Domenech appeared alone at a news conference Monday to say some of his players might not want to play in today's Group A finale against the host South Africans.

"It is a possibility," said Domenech, who has faced a player rebellion over the past 48 hours. "We will have to take it into account when I compose the team with my staff."

The mutiny started shortly after Thursday's 2-0 loss to Mexico when striker Nicolas Anelka insulted the coach in a profane tirade. The French Football Federation expelled Anelka, then the players boycotted practice Sunday during a tumultuous period in which a fitness coach stormed off the field and the managing director of the French federation said he was resigning.

The team practiced Monday but with the players' workout uniforms stripped of sponsor logos. A fast-food restaurant in France has pulled its ads featuring Anelka, while a prominent bank has canceled an advertising campaign featuring the team.

Captain Patrice Evra did not attend the prematch news conference that normally features the coach and the captain. That could be an indication that Evra, who led the players' protest, might not play today.

"The sanction was absolutely justified, and I fully support the Federation's decision" to send Anelka home, Domenech said Monday. "Nobody can allow himself to behave that way."

England: Frank Lampard sought to calm the latest rumors of discord within the team.

The midfielder said that John Terry's emotional talk of a team meeting with coach Fabio Capello after England's scoreless draw with Algeria was the center back's way of hitting problems "head on."

But Lampard denied it was a heated meeting with Capello.

"I understand what John is saying because he's passionate," Lampard said. "All 23 players deal with things differently. Some people don't want to say too much; some people want to hit things head on."

French players might sit 06/21/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 21, 2010 10:16pm]
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