French soccer boss quits: 'I am ashamed'
Fallout from horrible World Cup effort continues
Outgoing French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes says he is ashamed of France's World Cup fiasco and accepts a large share of responsibility for what happened.
Escalettes resigned Friday before the federation's federal council, but he is staying on the job until July 23. An announcement on his successor had been widely expected after Friday's meeting, but officials wanted more time to choose one.
At a news conference, Escalettes offered his first lengthy public explanation to the French about what he called the "debacle" at the FIFA World Cup. France finished the first round without a single victory, and worse, there were open conflicts between the squad and team management.
At one point, France players boycotted a training session to protest Nicolas Anelka's exclusion from the squad following an expletive-filled tirade directed at coach Raymond Domenech.
"I am ashamed, and I present my apologies to the French football world" and fans, Escalettes said.
Could not stop boycott
Escalettes, who has run the federation since 2005, spoke with feeling of a moment of crisis during the World Cup — when he tried unsuccessfully to get players to change their minds about boycotting their practice.
"I have always appealed to my heart and mind, in my professional life and in life in general, and there, I found myself up against youths for whom these arguments had no weight," he said.
He said he took responsibility "for being unable to convince these players to get off the bus and do their job."
The federation also confirmed the replacement of retiring coach Raymond Domenech by former Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc, a World Cup winner with France in 1998 and a European Championship winner two years later.
Domenech's last gesture at the Cup was his refusal to shake hands with the rival coach after France's final loss to South Africa.
Escalettes said he was "disappointed in [Domenech], but above all disappointed in myself."
Stood by manager
Escalettes was widely criticized for his decision to stand by Domenech despite France's humiliating first-round exit at Euro 2008.
While Domenech and Escalettes were grilled this week by a parliamentary committee about the World Cup debacle, that meeting took place behind closed doors. Domenech still hasn't given a full public explanation.
Legislators who heard the former coach speak in the private session said he largely blamed the media for the team's divisions.
But Escalettes insisted that Domenech apologized "with a lot of humility."