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France soccer head resigns after World Cup 'fiasco'

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Jean-Pierre Escalettes 'accepts responsibility' for shambles at World Cup
  • Traditional soccer powerhouse eliminated in the first round in South Africa
  • England manager to find out in two weeks if he keeps job after loss to Germany
  • French team squabbles on the sidelines embarrassed country, minister says

Paris, France (CNN) -- The president of the French soccer federation resigned Monday after the "fiasco" of the team's performance at the World Cup, he said in a statement posted on the association's website.

The resignation of Jean-Pierre Escalettes takes effect July 2, he said.

France, a world soccer powerhouse, was eliminated from the World Cup this year in the first round, scoring only one goal in three games.

"I clearly accept my responsibility," Escalettes said in his statement.

He said he would "help analyze the reasons behind the fiasco of the French team's performance in South Africa. I shall testify in front of my colleagues on Friday," he said, referring to the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the manager of the England team will find out in two weeks whether he gets to keep his job.

Fabio Capello said he had met with England chairman Sir Dave Richards after Germany crushed England 4-1 on Sunday, eliminating them from the World Cup.

Capello said he wanted to stick with the team through the end of his contract, which expires in 2012.

The French World Cup soccer team kept a very low profile when they returned home from South Africa last Thursday.

Star player Thierry Henry met French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace later in the day and left through a back door, French radio BFM reported.

Henry had requested the meeting before the team left the World Cup, Sarkozy's office said Wednesday.

The French ejection from a tournament they won in 1998 followed an apparent collapse in relations between coach Raymond Domenech and his players.

Domenech left team captain Patrice Evra out of the final match, and the team refused to practice just days before it.

Henry, once France's main striker, was reduced to a minor role in this year's tournament, starting all three matches on the substitutes' bench.

A high-ranking French Cabinet minister told parliament Wednesday that the government will probe and audit the nation's soccer federation in light of France's failure to advance at the World Cup and the dissent on the team.

"We can only note the disaster with a French team where immature bullies order frightened children, with a helpless coach without any authority, a French Football Federation at bay," said Roselyne Bachelot, the French Minister of health, youth and sports.

"That's the reason why the government has decided to take all of its responsibilities by first conducting a profound analysis, an external audit, because those who have failed cannot conduct this analysis."

France, traditionally among the strongest national sides in world football and the losing finalist in Germany four years ago, became one of the first to be eliminated this time around.

Striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home after confronting Domenech at halftime during France's 0-2 defeat by Mexico.

Evra was then involved in a public dispute with the squad's fitness coach on the training ground and is reported to have led dissent over Anelka's expulsion from the team, with the entire squad boycotting the training session.

Last week, Bachelot told journalists the French players had "tarnished the image of France," according to French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

CNN's Carol Jordan and Lianne Turner contributed to this report.