I just came across a story about the new French national football team coach, Laurent Blanc suspending the all 23 players who represented France at the World Cup from their next international match. The French team was a ‘huge’ disappointment in South Africa, losing all three of their games and failing to move on past the first round. I put quotations around huge as the team would not have qualified for the World Cup had it not been for an illegal hand ball by Thierry Henry in their last qualifying match that lead to the goal that put the team into the World Cup. For the French though, their team was supposed to do better.
As for the punishment, I am drawing a blank on the logic that went into the decision. I do understand that a coach’s only real power is the amount of playing time he awards to a player. What I do not understand is why a brand new coach would forego starting fresh and instead further twist a knife into recent wounds. Why not take a French jersey from the World Cup and burn it with the players before the next game to symbolize a new beginning?
Even more curious is the fact the coach is punishing individuals who volunteer significant time to represent their country. These are multi-millionaire athletes with high paying club jobs who answer the call to represent their country. What is a public humiliation supposed to achieve? Perhaps I am missing some sort of cultural element in all of this, but I suspect most multi-millionaire athletes would opt to get both middle fingers in the air and get on with their day jobs. Who wants to give up their free time to play for a disorganized federation that lacks anything resembling leadership and who does not appreciate their efforts?
It is a good thing the World Cup only comes around every four years. It would seem that France is going to need every one of those four years to get their house in order. It starts by understanding that the team is not comprised of spoiled brats, but rather proud athletes who want desperately to be successful for their country. Once that is understood, they can take productive steps towards improving their program.