As for French fans, they were only slightly less humiliated than the North Koreans, after South Africa's 2-1 victory over the "bleus" eliminated the 1998 champions and 2006 runners-up from the competition. Not only did the French squad play lackluster soccer (one goal scored in three matches); they managed to cover themselves in ridicule with a scandale that started with some salty locker room epithets from striker Nicolas Anelka and ended with the entire team going on strike to protest Anelka's expulsion by trainer Raymond Domenech. Leave it to the French to reinforce their own national stereotype with a fingerpointing labor dispute in the full glare of the international spotlight. (For the whole pathetic story, related with humor and attitude by my son Julian in Vanity Fair, check this link:
Julian and I are thinking of handing out tricolor paper bags to put over theFrench fans' heads, thus reviving a practice from the bad old days when the New Orleans Saints were the laughingstock of the National Football League. Courage, les bleus! Those same Saints came back to win the superbowl—but it took them 43 years. Oh, and they never went on strike.