18 Aug 2010

Ban could mean end of Anelka's career

8:18 am on 18 August 2010

French striker Nicolas Anelka will probably never play for his country again after being banned for 18 matches for his role in France's World Cup revolt.

The 31-year-old was sent home from South Africa after a row with coach Raymond Domenech and, in protest, the France squad boycotted a training session.

Anelka was one of five players involved in Tuesday's hearing but the only one to be given such a heavy ban.

Captain Patrice Evra was banned for five matches for leading a boycott of a training session over Anelka's banishment. Franck Ribery was banned for three games and Jeremy Toulalan for one.

The fifth player, Eric Abidal, escaped punishment by the disciplinary commission of the French Football Federation (FFF).

France caused a scandal at the World Cup by refusing to train at their base in Knysna, Western Cape, after Anelka was sent home in disgrace.

Two days after boycotting training, France suffered a shock first-round exit from the World Cup with a 2-1 defeat by hosts South Africa.

Laurent Blanc, who succeeded the Raymond Domenech as coach after the World Cup, refused to pick any of the 23 players involved in the boycott for his first game in charge, a 2-1 defeat in Norway earlier this month.

France start their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a home game against Belarus on 3 September.