SportsProf

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rebuilding France

Actually, the French national team.

New mentor Laurent Blanc wasted no time in trying to put his stamp on the national soccer team. He suspended all 23 members of the World Cup squad for the team's next international match versus Norway. This, of course, after the French team struck for a day during the World Cup and then woefully underperformed during the tournament, failing to make it out of the first round.

Let's see, though, how Blanc can restore order. You have the issue of entitled stars, a predecessor coach who clashed with players and religious and ethnic differences. It will be interesting to see if a) there are enough other players to challenge for berths to not compel Blanc to recruit those in disfavor back to the team and b) whether there is sufficient feeling among the stars for the country itself. It also isn't clear what the meaning of the suspension is. Is it a suspension or an expulsion, or will Blanc review each player's status on a case by case basis?

And then, of course, there's the LeBron factor. If Blanc views each player's status on a case-by-case basis, what's to stop some of the stars from banding together and saying, "Hey, listen, you can do what you want, but if you don't take all five of us in a package, none of us are coming?" That's where matters could get interesting, even if the court of public opinion in France tilts toward the country and Blanc on the particular issue of rebuilding the national team.

What a mess a once proud French team has become. Blanc seems to be taking the necessary steps to restore order, but only time will tell.

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