PARIS // France volleyball players are backing their coach's decision to send home Earvin Ngapeth following a row at the world championship in Italy.
While their football counterparts went on strike at the World Cup to protest Nicolas Anelka's eviction from the squad, the volleyballers support Philippe Blain, their coach. "We are supporting Philippe Blain's courageous and fair decision given the [player's] unacceptable behaviour in a high-level team," the players said.
Ngapeth was expelled from the team for insulting Blain in the dressing room following a match against Japan last week. Of the 13 players remaining in the squad, only three abstained from signing the letter after defence specialist Hubert Henno, who seemed at first reluctant to do it, finally gave his support to the coach late on Thursday. France is this weekend in the play-offs for ninth to 12th place.
The French federation said yesterday it will form a commission charged to find out the reasons for the team's poor results. Blain rued that he waited too long before sending Ngapeth home.
The player left the team on Wednesday just hours after a loss to Italy. "I wanted to protect the team but it was a mistake because instead of preserving the group, it just sapped its strength," Blain said.