On May 27, a giant metal claw descended ominously on the team bus of the French national football team. It latched on to the rear end of the vehicle. Metal buckled and glass shattered as the jaws slowly closed in. Watching the spectacle were hundreds of French football fans who cheered as the bus was converted to scrap. None of Les Bleus however, were injured in the incident. It was after all a publicity stunt by Adidas ahead of the 2014 World Cup. The bus itself was the real deal, if four years old.
The vehicle that was publicly destroyed was the bus that the France team travelled in at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Back then Les Bleus endured a disastrous campaign in which a string of poor performances saw Raymond Domenech’s side go out with a whimper in the group stages. That was only part of the horror story for France, though, as then-coach Domenech had to also deal with a player revolt at their training base in Knysna. Two days before they were to play a crucial tie against hosts South Africa, the players refused to take part in a training session, instead withdrawing to the team bus and pulling shut the curtains. The incident was triggered by a row between coach Domenech and player Nicholas Anelka. The latter abused the manager and was later sent home by the French federation when he refused to apologise.
The incident clearly had an impact on France’s current manager Didier Deschamp. Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri was dropped not because of a lack of talent but rather because it was believed that Nasri would cause problems within the team.
It’s clear their debacle in the 2010 World Cup continues to haunt the French national football team. However it remains to be seen whether the decision to crush the team bus the French team so memorably argued on will have any impact on the memories of the entire episode.