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SBD Global/July 2, 2012/International Football

Laurent Blanc Will Not Stay On As Head Coach Of National Team

French football national team coach Laurent Blanc stepped down after two years.
French football national team coach Laurent Blanc has left his position following a meeting with the France Football Federation and its President Noël Le Graët, according to the AFP. Blanc said, "We were not able to find a common ground around the management of the France team for the two seasons to come." Blanc coached the squad for two years and 27 matches with the team losing just four times (AFP, 6/30). Le Journal du Dimanche reported that Blanc's departure "has less to do with the attitude of his players during the Euro than that of his president for months." Le Graët found Blanc's "reputation overrated, his operation expensive, his independence annoying and the influence of his agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes, unhealthy." After the meeting between the two, Blanc told someone close to him, "Either way, he did not want to work with me anymore" (JDD, 7/1). The AFP reported that Blanc's former World Cup and Euro teammate Christophe Dugarry "was not surprised" the two men could not reach a deal. Dugarry: "Laurent is neither a manipulator nor a politician, he loves the sport and the goings on on the pitch. He needed support but Monsieur Le Graet's preference was to play politics in order that he be re-elected as president [in Dec.]." He added: "There are two reasons which would have precipitated his departure. If the target set for the Euro hadn't been achieved then he would have resigned of his own volition. The second is that those above him did not show total confidence in him and that is obviously what happened" (AFP, 7/1). L'EQUIPE reported that another former teammate, Bixente Lizarazu, was disappointed in the news. Lizarazu said, "Its a big suprise, a real waste. I think Laurent Blanc had all the cards in hand to decide to continue, with the challenge of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which was an extraordinary objective. Maybe even the Euro 2016 in France." He added: "Its a personal decision. Maybe it has to do with the discussion with Noel Le Graet. Each one waited for a willingness to work together. And since both look to be very stubborn, with character, nobody made the first move. Kind of like a romantic relationship where someone has to say, "I love you," first. Nobody says it, so we leave each other" (L'EQUIPE, 6/ 30).
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