French Team Goes Down in Flames at World Cup

They came in second last time--what happened?

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With a 2-1 defeat to host team South Africa, the French national squad has lost their final game in the 2010 World Cup. Astoundingly, given their second-place overall finish in 2006, they finished last in their group and will not even advance to the knockout rounds. In fact, it's been a rough ride the whole time--from the handball securing their qualification, to the insurrection following coach Raymond Domenech's decision to send home a troublesome player, to this disappointing exit. Here's a roundup of the head-shaking in the international press, as commentators ponder the incomparably dreadful 2010 performance of "Les Bleus."

  • Disgraceful "After having arrived with the status of world vice-champions," writes Erwan Le Duc in Le Monde, "the French are leaving crowned with a well-deserved dunce cap at the end of a competition which they enlivened more from the sidelines than on the field. After the tragi-comic events which transformed the basecamp of the Blues into (bad) boulevard theatre, this last match came at the worst possible time for a 'group' that no longer had anything big to win, but visibly had a little bit more to lose." He clearly means their dignity, noting that the "victory for honor didn't come."
  • Impossible to Beat Guardian liveblogger Paul Doyle decides France "could not have found a more ignominious way to exit. They finished bottom of Group A in a manner that makes them the laughing stock of the footballing world." He also notices that the French coach declined to shake hands with the South African coach at the end of the game. "He really is a petty, silly man."
  • 'La Fin. Let the Discredits Roll.' Amy Lawrence goes even further with her Guardian writeup.
Let Les Bleus depart the total shambles that they are. Their World Cup 2010 experience has been so unfathomably awful, it is hard to know where to begin with the inquest ... Mutiny, treachery, bitchiness, on top of abject performances on the pitch. This fiasco is everything that their triumphant team of old was not ... Honestly, what a surreal story. Even Jean Cocteau wouldn't have dreamed this one up.
  • 'Karma' That's one possible explanation, notes The New York Times' Andrew Das. "The French only reached the World Cup when an uncalled handball by Thierry Henry set up the winning goal in their playoff with Ireland last year, and their detractors howled even more when they were placed in what appeared to be a soft group for the first round."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.