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French Team Bow Out – Sour Grapes Taste Sweet

To day the French bowed out of the World Cup and today my ‘sour grapes’ tasted ever so sweet.

Ah, the French, you’ve just got to love them.  They’ve given the world French Fries, French Kissing and French Wine, the latter for which they are most famous, but when Thierry Henry used his shameful hand, (assisted by FIFA) to help guide the French to this Summer’s World Cup in South Africa, at the expense of the Irish, any bottle of French wine I had in my rack suddenly developed a very palatable tang of sour grapes.

The fact that the French qualified for the World Cup, in such a disgraceful and deplorable way, has left something of a sour taste in most Irish people’s mouths, so it is without rueful or repentant apology that I take pleasure in France’s exit today at the hands of their hosts, South Africa.

The French never deserved to be at the tournament from the beginning and since they qualified with that handball back on November 19th, they were destined for failure. The French team have been laden with problems for some time, but it took this Summer’s tournament in South Africa to drag all their problems to the surface, resulting in their implosion on the most public sporting stage you could envisage and their early exit serves them right.

Never has a French team (World Cup Champions 12 years ago remember) lacked so much passion and patriotism. Players seemed like they didn’t want to be there. Their coach Raymond Domenech didn’t want to be there. Star striker Nicolas Anelka was gone home after two games. Defender Patrice Evra had fisticuffs with the team’s physio Robert Duverne in front of the media. The squad refused to train and their Deputy Director of Football, Jean Louis Valentin, resigned. The French Team were a shambles and did not deserve to wear the patriotic blue of France, failing totally in their responsibilities to their country, their fans, their sponsors and the very game itself.

They only have themselves to blame. In 2002, there was similar disarray in the Irish World Cup camp, when Roy Keane famously walked out of the team’s training base in Saipan in Japan. These distractions, as headline grabbing as they were, never once took away from the patriot Irish on the pitch and the team went on to qualify for the 2nd round, narrowly losing out on a quarter final place to Spain, in a tense penalty shoot out.

So what now of the French team?  How do you pinpoint what exactly went wrong for them?  The team will point fingers at Anelka, the media and the coach, but maybe they should remember back to that night in Paris last November and think that all their troubles started the night they cheated their way past the Irish.

The French can whine all they want, but they deserve to be going home and their public downfall more than makes up for their public embarrassment of the Irish team at the end of last year.

So pop open a bottle of your best Bordeaux or Burgundy folks and start celebrating, because any sour grapes will probably taste sweet for the first time since November last.

As for the governing body of FIFA – enough said.

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