Roger Lemerre sacked as French coach

Roger Lemerre, who led the French football team's catastrophic World Cup title defence, was fired from his job as national coach on Friday.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Lyon (France):

Roger Lemerre, who led the French football team's catastrophic World Cup title defence, was fired from his job as national coach Friday by French soccer's governing body, FFF. Lemerre's departure had been expected since France was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup last month. The team failed to win a match or score a goal, making for the worst title defence in the history of the tournament. France was only the third titleholder to go out in the first round of the World Cup, after Italy in 1950 and Brazil in 1966. Many expected Lemerre to resign when the French team returned from Asia. But the FFF gave him three weeks to reflect on his future. When it became clear he was refusing to go, they decided to push him out. In a press conference in Paris on Friday the President of FFF, Claude Simonet spoke of the firing. "The Federal Council this morning relieved Roger Lemerre from his role as head coach. Roger Lemerre of course remains a technical executive of the national technical management board, having been thanked for his services and the titles won for the French team," informed President of FFF, Claude Simonet. Simone spoke of the gratitude France owed Lemerre, who was at the meeting but refused to speak to the press. Simonet went on to say he hadn't yet decided who would replace Lemerre. Contenders for the job include Jacques Santini, who coached Lyon to its first league title last season, French youth-team trainer Raymond Domenech and former Japan coach Philippe Troussier. "I am going to undertake some discussions, some meetings so that, together with the professional world who desires to work alongside the Federation in this field we can, in the next few days, examine the few possible applications to replace Roger Lemerre. I will say no more on the matter today," Simonet added. Simonet said Lemerre, 61, would remain an employee of the FFF's national technical directorate, although he didn't say in what capacity. Lemerre took the helm of the French team when his predecessor, Aime Jacquet, resigned after winning the 1998 World Cup. Sticking to an almost identical lineup, Lemerre established his reputation as a worthy successor by steering France to victory in the 2000 European Championship. Just before the World Cup, his contract as team coach was extended until July 2004. But a hostile attitude toward the media and a cold public persona ensured that, while respected, the former trainer of France's national military team was little liked by the French press. His real downfall, however, was a couple of key injuries just before the tournament started. Zinedine Zidane, France's midfield anchor, missed the first two matches because of a thigh strain, and a knee injury ruled out star winger Robert Pires for the whole tournament. (AP)