Manchester City FC striker Nicolas Anelka has turned down the chance to play for France in Wednesday's friendly against Yugoslavia according to reports in France.
Lack of confidence
Anelka had been called up as a late replacement for Olympique Lyonnais's Sidney Govou, who sustained a thigh injury during a league match against FC Girondins de Bordeaux on Saturday. But according to the sports daily L'Equipe he decided not to accept the opportunity.
'I always did my best'
The 23-year-old travelled to Paris on Sunday only to tell waiting reporters that he would not be joining the squad in Clairefontaine. He said: "I met the coach [Jacques Santini] last week when we played Manchester United FC and I was not convinced by what he said. I have been very proud to wear France shirt and I always did my best with Les Bleus, but
I don't feel the people in charge really want me to play."
Santini has responded by saying that he has yet to be advised by the player of his decision. "I have not been informed officially. I'm still waiting for him to call us before announcing a replacement," he said. "There is a meeting at 1pm today with the players and if he's not there we will understand. We found out about his decision not to come this morning through the press but we haven't heard from him yet.
I will only comment when it's official."
Closed the door
Anelka, who has won 28 caps and scored six goals for France, has become the first player to refuse to represent France since Sérge Chiesa in the Seventies. Indeed, the authorities in France have reacted quickly to the situation.
"The French Football Federation is considering asking Anelka's club to ban him for two matches," a French media officer said in a statement. "It's the Federation's rule in such a case and a plea could be sent to the English Football Assocation. If no sanction is taken we will put the case to FIFA."
The EURO 2000™ winner has had an awkward relationship with the national team ever since Aimé Jacquet failed to pick him in his 1998 FIFA World Cup squad and Roger Lemerre also decided against him for his squad for the 2002 World Cup. He last played for France in the goalless draw against Russia in a World Cup warm-up match at the Stade de France in April.
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