France criticised over flashy hotel

KNYSNA, South Africa, June 6 (Reuters) - France have picked a World Cup hotel which is far too flashy and they will have to account for it if they make an early exit, the country's sports junior minister said on Sunday.

France, whose popularity at home has reached a depressing low after a string of uninspired performances, arrived at the Pezula Resort, a luxury hotel at Knysna on the scenic Western Cape coastline on Saturday.

"Personally I would not have chosen that hotel," junior minister Rama Yade told French radio station radio J. "I had asked football authorities to show decency. In times of crisis, you need to think about it.

"If the team's results do not meet our expectations, the (French Football) Federation will have to account for this," she added.

The former world champions, who needed a controversial playoff win over Ireland to book a place at the finals in South Africa, are not considered favourites for the June 11-July 11 tournament, unlike Spain, who are staying at more modest accommodation.

"Spain, who belong among the favourites, have chosen a university campus," she said, referring to the North-West University at Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg, where the European champions are staying.


Described as "a sanctuary of privacy and indulgence" on it's website, the Pezula Resort boasts a secluded beach and stunning views of the Indian Ocean and the Knysna Lagoon.

"It's a very nice hotel," France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff told reporters on Sunday.

"We can prepare in ideal conditions. I'm very happy to be here but I didn't choose it."

Midfielder Alou Diarra sounded slightly irritated by the junior minister's comments.

"Many people must be jealous," he said. "We're very well looked after but that's not a secret.

"The minister has her opinion but we must not worry about such things. We are here to prepare for the World Cup and we must focus entirely on that."

France, who made an early exit from Euro 2008, are dreaming of a repeat of their surprise run to the 2006 World Cup final in Germany and Diarra said he could see a likeness in the two squads.

"There are similarities (with 2006)," Diarra said. "We're in the same state of mind."

Diarra admitted France still had work to do after slumping to a surprise 1-0 defeat by China in their final warm-up match on Friday but he believed they would be competitive when they tackle Uruguay in their first match on June 12 in Cape Town.

"We have a bit of time left to fine-tune everything," he said. "We'll be ready."