France players’ bonus frozen as quartet face probe following Euro 2012

President of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noel Le Graet attends a news conference after the FFF executive committee at the French Football Federation headquarters in Paris July 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Mal Langsdon)

PARIS: Bonuses owed to the France team for having made the quarterfinals of the recently concluded Euro 2012 have been frozen, the French football federation announced Tuesday.

Each member of the French team, which lost 2-0 in the quarters to eventual winners Spain, was eligible for a bonus of 100,000 euros.

But in light of the infighting and ill-discipline that dogged the country’s Euro campaign, federation president Noel Le Graet said: “The whole of the bonuses of the France team at Euro 2012 are frozen.

“It’s blocked money, which may be redistributed or maybe not.”

Le Graet, up for re-election in December, added that four players from the squad would appear at a disciplinary committee “as soon as possible after their holidays” to explain their behavior at the tournament hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

“Four players will go before the disciplinary committee: [Hatem] Ben Arfa, [Yann] M’Vila, [Samir] Nasri and [Jeremy] Menez,” Le Graet said after a meeting of the executive committee, a body he said was unable to impose sanctions.

“The players must be punished, sanctioned, but I don’t want to make victims out of them.

“Financial sanctions are detailed in our statutes, and [possible] suspensions for the upcoming cases will be examined most fairly.”

Nasri verbally abused an AFP journalist after the loss to Spain and was seen as a disruptive influence throughout, while Ben Arfa had a dressing room row with Laurent Blanc, who stood down as coach after the tournament.

Menez railed at a referee, and gestured at captain Hugo Lloris during the Spain game, telling him to shut up, while M’Vila did not shake hands with Blanc or his replacement when he was substituted for Olivier Giroud.

All the incidents led many pundits to draw similarities to the France squad that disgraced itself at the 2010 World Cup.

Le Graet added that France’s World Cup and Euro-winning captain Didier Deschamps “is part of a shortlist” in the federation’s bid to find a suitable replacement for Blanc.

“I saw Didier Deschamps quickly yesterday evening [Monday],” Le Graet said. “In any case, the proposal was made to him. He confirmed to me that the France team was part of his dreams.

“He asked me for a few days to think things over. He’s part of a shortlist.

“If Didier drags it out too much, I’ll take another decision. But I won’t today disturb a Ligue 1 club,” he told Marseille Deschamps’ current employer.

But if confirmed, Deschamps, once witheringly described as a “water carrier” by Eric Cantona, would be taking on what increasingly looks like a poisoned chalice after a torrid recent history for the 1998 world champions.

Euro 2000-winner Roger Lemerre stepped down after France failed to exit the group stage at the 2002 World Cup; Jacques Santini, left after Euro 2004 for an ill-fated sojourn at Spurs; and Domenech went in 2010 after a roller coaster for six years.

Should Deschamps take over, he would at least be able to continue the hard work that Blanc had put in since replacing the largely unloved Domenech after the 2010 World Cup debacle, which compounded a disastrous Euro 2008 campaign.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 04, 2012, on page 14.




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