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Friday, Aug. 20, 2010

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Laughing it off: Nicolas Anelka (left), seen here playing for Chelsea, ripped the French Football Federation for suspending him for 18 international games for his conduct at the World Cup. AP PHOTO

Anelka blasts French federation over lengthy suspension

PARIS (AP) Nicolas Anelka says he isn't interested in playing again for France, a day after he received an 18-match suspension from the national team for his outburst against the coach during the World Cup.

The French Football Federation suspended the Chelsea striker Tuesday for his profane tirade against then-coach Raymond Domenech during France's 2-0 loss to Mexico at the World Cup in South Africa. Anelka was sent home, prompting all 23 French players to boycott a practice session.

"Who said I wanted to play again in blue?" he said in Wednesday editions of Soir newspaper in France, adding "for me, after the World Cup in South Africa, the French team is now history."

The 18-match ban is expected to last for nearly two years, meaning that by the time he's eligible to play for "Les Bleus," Anelka will be 33 and unlikely to be recalled.

Anelka called the suspension a "masquerade to not lose face."

"These people are real clowns. . . . I'm dying of laughter," Anelka said in the article.

The French federation's disciplinary commission handed former captain Patrice Evra a five-match ban, Franck Ribery a three-match ban and Jeremy Toulalan a one-match suspension. The players can appeal.

Eric Abidal, the fifth player summoned to the 4-hour hearing, wasn't punished.

France was eliminated in the first round without winning a game at the World Cup. But it was the players' actions, including the sit-in on the team bus, that drew widespread condemnation from the public, France President Nicolas Sarkozy and other political leaders.

The French federation summoned the five players who played a leading role to a hearing Tuesday. Anelka and Ribery didn't attend and sent lawyers instead.

Ribery, who was assistant captain at the World Cup, was prevented from traveling to the hearing by his club, Bayern Munich, before the team's opening Bundesliga match on Friday.

Oezil makes move

MADRID (AP) A last-minute conversation with coach Jose Mourinho sealed Mesut Oezil's decision to move to Real Madrid, according to the Germany playmaker.

Oezil passed a routine medical on Wednesday to complete his transfer on a six-year deal from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen, worth a reported $19.3 million.

Oezil said his future was still in the air on Tuesday, with the deal completed before Werder Bremen's Champions League playoff game Wednesday against Sampdoria. Oezil would not have been eligible to play for another club in the competition if he had been in Werder's lineup.

"I spoke with Mourinho and he convinced me," Oezil said Wednesday from Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. "What we said stays between him and I, but he's the big reason why I am here."

Mourinho joined Madrid shortly after leading Inter Milan to a Champions League triumph that was its first in Europe's top-tier competition for 45 years. The Portuguese coach also led FC Porto to the Champions League title.

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