x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Evra and Ribery return to France after bans

Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery were both handed bans after the France football team went on strike at training during the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

PARIS // Patrice Evra, the defender, and Franck Ribery, the winger, have been called up to France's squad for the first time since they were banned over their part in a training ground strike at last year's Fifa World Cup.

Laurent Blanc, the France coach, selected them for a 2012 European Championship qualifier away to Luxembourg on March 25 and a home friendly against Croatia four days later.

Evra was handed a five-match ban because he was France's captain when the team went on strike at training, while Ribery was banned for three games for his perceived role as a ringleader.

Both bans expired some time ago but, due to repetitive injuries for Ribery and the form of Eric Abidal, the Barcelona left-back, neither player had been recalled.

Blanc's selections came despite calls from Chantal Jouanno, the French sports minister, who said she considered a return for the alleged ringleaders of the World Cup strike "unacceptable".

"I stand by (what I said), nothing has really changed," said Jouanno during a visit to France's National Rugby Centre (CNR) in Marcoussis. "There have been no excuses, no mea culpas and at the time they didn't renounce their bonuses.

"Now, as the role of a minister is not be the France coach but to defend the values of the French team and of sport in general, I would regret it (if Ribery and Evra were recalled)."