French press review, 22 June 2010

French dailies examine the woes of France's World Cup team as it readies for a match against hosts South Africa tonight. And fashion wizard Karl Lagerfeld revamps left-leaning Libération.


Trendy Libération is looking rather different this morning, all grown up and stylish. It's normally a scutty little tabloid, but because top fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has been given the layout job for the day, it has suddenly become a broadsheet. And a fine job Karl has made of it. Not only has he changed the shape of the paper, he's also done all the drawings which illustrate it. There are lots of pictures of himself . . . thin, austere, sunglasses, dressed like an undertaker's apprentice, all in black . . . but he also gets in a few jolly looking Taliban sharing a joke over a poppy flower, and a nice image of the World Cup trophy wearing the face of French coach, Raymond Domenech, with blood pouring from several invisible wounds and the headline "Domenech is still breathing". By the final whistle this afternoon, his life as French national coach, at least, may be over.

And let Raymond spare a thought for Sani Kaita, the Nigerian midfielder who was sent off during the Super Eagle's defeat against Greece. The unfortunate Sani has received over one thousand e-mail messages from less than gruntled fans threatening him with death. The man is completely blown away by the level of loathing in the messages, and the team management have asked the Nigerian authorities to take steps to protect the player.

At least the bookmakers are enjoying this World Cup. The surprise results have meant that people like William Hill have raked in an unexpected fortune. The nil-all draw between Algeria and England, for example, made the English betting company a clear profit of 10 million pounds sterling.

Catholic La Croix and Communist l'Humanité both get football fever this morning.

The Communist daily explains exactly what's wrong with French football in particular, and world football in general. The problem is MONEY.

According to l'Humanité, the ridiculous crisis that has recently shaken the French nation to its boots is symptomatic of a cynical business that has lost all touch with the real world.

"Money dominates the game," says a sports psychologist interviewed by l'Huma, "everyone is out for himself, selfishness is the only rule. In many ways," he continues, "the French team have the same values as common criminals".

La Croix's main headline offers to explain "Why football makes men mad". And the answer is . . . MONEY. French football has tripped over the golden carpet, says the Catholic daily, with a nice cartoon of two footballing kids, standing before a goal filled with money, naked women, fancy cars and advertising contracts. And one asks the other, "Is that what the game is all about?". Indeed.

Business daily Les Echos looks at how the sponsors are reacting to the unsavoury problems wracking the French team. The bank Crédit Agricole has already cancelled its television advertising campaign featuring the national squad. Other big sponsors have asked for urgent meetings with the French Football Federation, which has been taking criticism, much of it justified, from all sides.

Sports daily l'Equipe reminds us that this afternoon's match in Bloemfontein is vital, not so much for the result which won't save the French from elimination unless they score a pile of goals and Mexico and Uruguay avoid a draw. The Equipe main headline reads "For the honour," and you have to imagine that there's more than a touch of irony in that.

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