France squad told to sing national anthem

CLAIREFONTAINE - New France coach Laurent Blanc has passed the words of the French national anthem on to his players so they can sing La Marseillaise before their Euro 2012 qualifier against Belarus.

Many French fans felt the players tarnished the country's reputation when they refused to train during this year's World Cup in support of striker Nicolas Anelka who was sent home for insulting former coach Raymond Domenech.

Few French players usually sing the national anthem before their games and Blanc wants that to change.

"It's a quite sensitive issue here and I've personally prompted the players to sing La Marseillaise tomorrow," Blanc told reporters on Thursday.

"They perfectly know what I think. I've passed the lyrics on to them so I think they'll be able to sing tomorrow," he added. "Everybody is free to do what he wants but when you know La Marseillaise, you sing it."

French players were accused of behaving like rude and egocentric children after their training boycott, Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot saying some were acting like "gang leaders".

Blanc now asks them to do simple things like collecting their empty water bottles at the end of each training session, something they rarely did under Domenech.

"There is plenty of work to do," Blanc said. "Actually, when you're a coach, you can try to ask your players to behave on the pitch in a way which can inspire them for their day-to-day living."

France host Belarus at the Stade de France in their opening Euro 2012 qualifying Group D match on Friday.

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