France's sport minister rips team over pricey hotel
France sports minister Rama Yade questioned Sunday whether the national football squad needs such luxurious lodgings at the World Cup, suggesting instead a thriftier option should have been used during a time of economic crisis.
The squad is staying at the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa in Knysna, South Africa, on the Indian Ocean. Rooms start at $595 US a night during the low season.
"Personally, I wouldn't have chosen this hotel," Yade told Radio J, adding that she had "urged football authorities to show decency" because of the economic downturn and noting that Spain's team is staying at a university campus.
"If France goes far, the choice of a site with the best training conditions could seem wise," Yade said, but if not then football authorities "will have to explain themselves."
France midfielders Yoann Gourcuff and Alou Diarra were asked to respond to Yade's comments before team started training on Sunday.
Gourcuff refused to get drawn into the debate, but Diarra openly gave his opinion.
"Many people must be jealous of this hotel," Diarra said. "They are ideal conditions ... we have very good lodgings, but that's not a secret for anyone anymore.
"I think Rama Yade is learning. Let's just say the sports minister has her things to say, [she] has her point of view."
Diarra, who played in the 2006 World Cup final, said the team would not be affected by the issue.
"We'll block it out, we don't want to mix sport and politics," he said. "We're concentrating on the tournament. Our objective is to be ready to play Uruguay on Friday."
France has been struggling for form in its warmup matches, including a surprise 1-0 loss to China last week. After its opening Group A game against Uruguay, France then faces Mexico and host South Africa.