x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

World Cup diary: Escalettes accepts responsibility in French fiasco

Jean-Pierre Escalettes, the outgoing French Football Federation president, is ashamed of France's World Cup fiasco and accepted a large share of responsibility for what happened.

Jean-Pierre Escalettes, the outgoing French Football Federation president, is ashamed of France's World Cup fiasco and accepted a large share of responsibility for what happened.

Escalettes resigned yesterday and at a news conference he offered his first lengthy public explanation to the French about what he called the "debacle". France finished without a victory and at one point, and France players boycotted a training session to protest Nicolas Anelka's exclusion from the squad. "I am ashamed, and I present my apologies to the French football world and fans," Escalettes said. "I have always appealed to my heart and mind, in my professional life and in life in general, and there, I found myself up against youths for whom these arguments had no weight."

Fifa will suspend Nigeria from world football unless the country's government overturns its ban on the national team by Monday. Nicolas Maingot, the Fifa spokesman, said the governing body was contacting the government by letter to tell Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, he has until 6pm local time (7pm UAE) on Monday to back down on his threat to pull the Nigerian Football Federation out of international competition for two years after their group-stage exit from the World Cup. "Failure to do so will result in the suspension of the NFF," Maingot said.

Graham Henry, the New Zealand rugby coach, inadvertently revealed yesterday that his team and South Africa will play their Tri-Nations rugby match next month at the Soccer City stadium in Soweto, the venue for the World Cup final. South African officials have yet to announce their decision to move the August 21 match from Ellis Park in Johannesburg to the 95,000-seat Soweto venue. Henry let slip the information in an interview with the stuff.co.nz website, before recognising his error, saying: "No, it's only speculated we're playing in a stadium that holds 97,000. Gee, that would be great, wouldn't it? I can't wait."

Jose Pekerman and Marcelo Bielsa, the former Argentina coaches, have been named as candidates to replace Takeshi Okada as coach of Japan's national football team. Pekerman and Bielsa, who coached Chile at the ongoing World Cup, have been under consideration by the Japan Football Association (JFA), Nikkan Sports reported yesterday. "We have to carefully analyse what is best for Japanese football," Motoaki Inukai, the JFA president, was quoted as saying.

Italian clubs will be allowed to buy only one non-European Union player in the coming season after the football federation voted to change the rules yesterday following the Azzurri's World Cup flop. Teams had previously been allowed to buy two non-EU players per season but action has been taken to increase the pool of Italian talent after the world champions crashed out in the group stage in South Africa. But the top flight Serie A, which will govern itself this term for the first time, reacted angrily to the decision. "The reduction was approved by the federation board with Serie A voting against. The decision leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and does not resolve Italian football problems," the Serie A president, Maurizio Beretta, told the Serie A website. Inter Milan won the Champions League final in May without an Italian in their starting line-up.

A British national and an American man have been arrested in Johannesburg for ticket touting at the World Cup, South Africa police said yesterday. The pair are accused of illegally selling and distributing World Cup hospitality packages in contravention of South Africa's Trade Practices Act and the Unfair Business Practices Act, which covers ticket sales and distribution.