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French soccer players suspended over World Cup fiasco

By the CNN Wire Staff
The French team listen to former coach Raymond Domenech (center), Franck Ribery and Patrice Evra stand to his right.
The French team listen to former coach Raymond Domenech (center), Franck Ribery and Patrice Evra stand to his right.
  • Four players from France's national soccer team have been punished
  • The French Football Federation suspended them after events at World Cup
  • Players faced disciplinary action for their poor performance and behavior
  • The French were knocked out of the tournament at the group stage in June

Paris, France (CNN) -- Four members of the French national soccer team were punished by a disciplinary commission Tuesday following an inquiry into the team's much-criticized performance and behavior at this year's World Cup.

The French Football Federation's commission announced that striker Nicolas Anelka -- whose expulsion from the tournament in June sparked a revolt by his teammates -- was suspended for 18 international games.

Former team captain Patrice Evra was suspended for five games and his deputy Franck Ribery received a three-game ban, while Jeremy Toulalan was ruled out for one match.

The commission said it did not suspend defender Eric Abidal after hearing his explanations for refusing to play in the final group match against South Africa.

Manchester United defender Evra, Lyon midfielder Toulalan and Barcelona's Abidal were said to have met with the commission in Paris Tuesday.

Ribery and Anelka, who play in Germany and England for clubs Bayern Munich and Chelsea respectively, were not present at the meeting but were represented by lawyers at the session. Anelka's ban could effectively end the 31-year-old's international career.

The players have the right to appeal the commission's decision, the FFF said.

France, which won the World Cup in 1998 and lost in the final four years ago, was forced out of this year's tournament early on, during the group stage.

The team's troubles began after an argument between Anelka and former head coach Raymond Domenech during the game with Mexico. After the FFF expelled Anelka from the tournament, other team members huddled in a bus the next day and refused to train for their next match.

The FFF summoned the five players last week along with Domenech, his assistant Alain Boghossian, former FFF President Jean-Pierre Escalettes and former FFF official Jean-Louis Valentin.

New France coach Laurent Blanc dropped the entire 23-man World Cup squad for his first match in charge, a 2-1 defeat by Norway in a friendly international ahead of next month's opening Euro 2012 qualifiers against Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina