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FRENCH POLITICIANS DENY FOOTBALL INTERFERENCE

By NBF News

France's government says it has not meddled with its football federation.

Fifa criticised the government after it summoned manager Raymond Domenech and the French federation's former president to a hearing on Wednesday.

“There was never any question of the French government interfering in the affairs of the French Football Federation,” said spokesman Luc Chatel.

France came bottom of their group after infighting within the squad led to the team refusing to train.

Domenech and former French Football Federation (FFF) president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, who resigned on Monday, appeared before a parliamentary commission to explain what went wrong in South Africa.

Striker Thierry Henry held talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy last week to explain his side of what went wrong.

France's problems began after their 2-0 defeat to Mexico, when striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally insulting Domenech.

The following day the entire French squad refused to train in protest at the decision and Manchester United defender and France captain Patrice Evra had to be separated from fitness coach Robert Duverne after an argument.

Domenech dropped a number of the squad's senior players, who were seen as being behind the problems, for their final group match against South Africa which they lost 2-1.

There were accusations that French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot had interfered with the FFF by calling on Escalettes to resign, a claim Chatel denies:

“She indeed indicated that she personally believed his resignation was unavoidable but she did not ask for his resignation,” he said.

“It is normal for members of parliament to try to find out exactly what happened because it is a topic that preoccupies French people.”

Fifa rules state that national governments must not interfere with the affairs of their football federations.

Any country whose government does interfere with the running of their federation is liable to have its national and club sides banned from international competition.