FIFA warns French government against meddling in football

June 26th, 2010 - 11:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, June 26 (DPA) Football’s ruling body FIFA has warned the French government to keep out of the workings of football, the organization’s secretary general, Jerome Valcke, said Saturday.
“I spoke to the sports minister’s office and told them to be very careful,” Valcke said after Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot called on the head of the French football federation (FFF) to resign over the French team’s antics at the tournament.

The 2006 finalists became the butt of jokes at the World Cup, where they crashed out in the first round.

The team refused to train for a day in sympathy with striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech, before losing 1-2 to 83-ranked South Africa in their last game.

Bachelot, who travelled to South Africa to call the team to order, has described the resignation of FFF chairman Jean-Pierre Escalettes as “unavoidable”.

While it was acceptable for the government to meet with football officials to discuss ways of avoiding a repeat performance, and to even seek apologies from those involved, no politician could call on the head of the FFF to resign, Valcke warned.

FIFA and the FFF ruled French football, not the government, he made clear.

“Any time there is (political) interference, FIFA will react as with any country in the world,” Valcke, himself a Frenchman, said.

FIFA had not yet issued France with an official warning but was remaining “attentive” to the situation.

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