France

Slideshow: France celebrates as team wins place at Brazil World Cup

French fans celebrate on the Champs Elysées
French fans celebrate on the Champs Elysées Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

French fans celebrated as France fell back in love with its national football team on Tuesday evening. Les Bleus won their place at next year's Brazil World Cup with a startling reversal of fortunes, winning 3-0 over Ukraine on their home ground.

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Fans waved French flags and danced on Paris's Champs Elysées and across the country after the surprise triumph.

Slideshow: En route to Brazil

French MPs hailed the win during a debate at the National Assembly and President François Hollande, a keen football fan despite a spat with clubs over a supertax plan, attended the match, possibly hoping that some of the glory might rub off and boost his flagging popularity.

Friday's 2-0 defeat in Kiev left the media and the public furious with the team and wondering if the national side would even get to Brazil, the first time since the 1994 USA World Cup.

The win met a 3-2 aggregate victory in the decisive qualifying play-off, giving a much-needed boost to a national morale battered by sporting defeats, economic crisis and a fractious political scene.

It was good news for coach Didier Deschamps, too.

"I have lived through some great moments in my long career," he said. "To take France to a World Cup is fabulous, especially after the first leg, where the result was not favourable."

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet announced that the coach's contract had been extended by two years through to 2016.

"This is maybe a new beginning," he commented.

 

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