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Escalettes takes responsibility

July 2, 2010
Associated Press

PARIS -- Outgoing French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes said Friday he is ashamed of France's World Cup fiasco and accepted a large share of responsibility for it.

Escalettes submitted his resignation Friday, but is staying on the job until July 23. An announcement on his successor was expected after Friday's meeting, but officials want more time to choose one.

Escalettes offered his first lengthy public explanation about what he called the "debacle" at the World Cup. France finished the first round without a victory, and worse, there were open conflicts between the squad and team management.

At one point, France players boycotted a training session to protest Nicolas Anelka being thrown off the team. Anelka's expletive-filled tirade directed at coach Raymond Domenech during a game led to Anelka being sent home.

"I am ashamed, and I present my apologies to the French football world," Escalettes said.

Escalettes, who has run the federation since 2005, spoke emotionally of the crisis during the World Cup, when he tried unsuccessfully to get players to change their mind about boycotting the practice. He said he took responsibility "for being unable to convince these players to get off the bus and do their job."

The federation also confirmed the replacement of Domenech by former Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc, a World Cup winner with France in 1998 and a European Championship winner two years later.

Domenech's last gesture at the Cup was his refusal to shake hands with coach Carlos Alberto Parreira after France's loss to South Africa.

Escalettes said he was "disappointed in [Domenech], but above all disappointed in myself."

Escalettes was widely criticized for standing by Domenech despite France's humiliating first-round exit at the 2008 European Championship.

Domenech and Escalettes were grilled this week about the World Cup flop by a parliamentary committee, but that meeting took place behind closed doors. Domenech still hasn't given a full public explanation.

Lawmakers who heard the former coach speak said he largely blamed the media for the team's problems. But Escalettes insisted that Domenech apologized "with a lot of humility."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press