Blanc: I am not the bogeyman

PARIS - New France coach Laurent Blanc said it was not his responsibility to take disciplinary action against the players who led a mutiny during the team's dismal World Cup campaign.

France were eliminated from the tournament in South Africa in the first round following a campaign marred by a players' boycott of a training session in support of striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech.

"I followed the events with great sadness. I was disappointed by the results and I was particularly shocked by some behaviour," Blanc, a member of France's World Cup-winning squad in 1998, told a news conference on Tuesday.

"However, I'm not the bogeyman. It is not my responsibility to take disciplinary action."

So tarnished was the reputation of the 2006 World Cup runners-up on and off the field that their debacle caused uproar in France and became a political issue.

President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a wholesale review of French soccer and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot said the resignation of French Federation (FFF) chairman Jean-Pierre Escalettes was inevitable."

Escalettes quit last Friday during a meeting of the FFF's governing body but the council postponed the election of a new president until later this year and will only make a temporary appointment on July 23.

ENJOYING SUCCESS

Meanwhile, the 44-year-old Blanc, nicknamed "The President" in his playing days, has been hailed as a messiah after enjoying success in his coaching career by guiding Girondins Bordeaux to the 2009 Ligue 1 title.

He started the news conference by reading a pre-written statement stressing his "total attachment" to the French national team and saying that "precision, discipline and pleasure" will be his motto.

He was, however, cautious and non-committal when questions came about the futures of captain Patrice Evra, playmaker Franck Ribery and defender Eric Abidal, who have been branded as the ringleaders of the squad.

"I shall select them if I think they are the best players available," he said. "I shall have to make choices and, perhaps, some of the players who were in South Africa will not be chosen if I decide they are not the best in their position."

The first real answer will come when the new coach names his first squad before France travel to Oslo for a friendly against Norway on August 11.

The first official game under his tenure is scheduled for Sept. 3 when Les Bleus host Belarus in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

"After a World Cup a new coach could hope to be able to rely on a core, a fruit stone, of players but after what happened that stone is nothing more than a melon pips," Blanc said.

"My first task will be to rebuild that core of players."

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