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France unites in World Cup sorrow


09/07/2006 - 22:20:47 (来源:http://www.EnglishCN.com)

France united in sorrow and wounded pride today after its team lost the World Cup final to Italy, with fans thronging Paris’ Champs-Elysees and spilling into streets nationwide in a collective post-match consolation party.

Dismay at losing out on soccer’s greatest honour in a spectacular, tightly fought match was palpable – but so was satisfaction at having made it to the final at all. France struggled to qualify for the Cup and then barely squeezed past the first round.

“Of course we’re disappointed,” said Thibaud Miannay, a 24-year-old student in Paris straining to watch the match outside a restaurant. “We didn’t deserve to finish on penalties,” he said, of the penalty shootout that ended the match 5-3 in Italy’s favour.

“The Italians won, and we’ve got to respect that,” he said, adding, “In any case, I didn’t think we would get that far.”

The loss was made more poignant since it was the parting match for national hero Zinedine Zidane, the midfielder and team captain who bid adieu to his stellar career after Sunday’s final in Berlin.

Earlier in the day, fans chanted the refrain of a pop jingle in outdoor markets, on subway trains and just about anywhere: “Zidane il va marquer!” - “Zidane, he’ll score a goal!”

He did, converting a penalty in the 7th minute. But then he exited unceremoniously after being red-carded for savagely headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 110th minute.

Police staked out positions in Paris and other cities, bracing for unrest after the evening match. Some clashes were reported at a stadium in southern Paris, Stade Charlety, that broadcast the match on a huge screen. No details were immediately available.

Fear of violence was fed by lingering tensions following riots that shook the nation last autumn in impoverished, immigrant neighbourhoods like those where Zidane and several of the players grew up.

Faces striped with the French tricolour had filled streets as the nation geared up for the match. Cars draped with French flags honked incessantly throughout the afternoon, but they and the rest of Paris fell silent during the tense match.

After France snared its first and only World Cup title in 1998 – on its home soil – the country staged its biggest celebrations since World War II. A portrait of Zidane was projected 16 stories high on the side of the Arc de Triomphe.

Posters of Zidane playing for various teams line the walls of a bar nicknamed Cafe Zizou near the farming hamlet of Aguemoune in the mountains of eastern Algeria, where his father grew up and where Zidane still has family.

The game was also followed closely in France’s Caribbean territories, where nine of the 23 players hail from; in Ivory Coast and Senegal and other former French colonies in Africa.

France’s lackluster early performance in the Cup prompted widespread scorn, with critics calling the players dysfunctional and has-beens.

The same barbs have been levelled at President Jacques Chirac and his government – and each World Cup victory on the way to the final has been a welcome surprise and a boost for national morale.

The team returns to France tomorrow and heads straight for a lunch at the presidential Elysee palace with Chirac, who was in Berlin for the final. Then the team will parade along the Champs-Elysees and circle the Arc de Triomphe, despite the loss.

Elsewhere, it was a victorious weekend for French athletes.

At Wimbledon, Amelie Mauresmo won the women’s singles title Saturday. And in the Tour de France, Sylvain Calzati of the AG2R squad won stage eight on Sunday, breaking into tears after he crossed the line.


from http://breakingnews.iol.ie/







 
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