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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Oct 15, 2008

Halt France matches if anthem is booed say Govt.

France matches must be stopped if the national anthem is booed, sports minister Roselyne Bachelot told the French Football Federation (FFF) on Wednesday.

"Every match will be interrupted and the members of the government will leave the stadium if the national anthem is booed," Bachelot told reporters after meeting French president Nicolas Sarkozy and FFF chief Jean-Pierre Escalettes.

Sarkozy summoned Escalettes after the French anthem, the Marseillaise, was booed at a friendly between France and Tunisia at the Stade de France on Tuesday.

The crowd was clearly in favour of the visitors with fans from France's large Tunisian population packing the stadium.

France coach Raymond Domenech was booed when his name was announced before the game and the France players were jeered every time they had the ball in the match which they won 3-1.

"It's insulting for France, it's insulting for the players of the French team, it should not be tolerated," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on RTL radio.

Like Bachelot, he wanted games stopped when the anthems of either team were disrespected. "I think we should stop the matches when the anthems, whichever they are, are booed."

However, Escalettes said stopping games would pose a security problem.

"You can't take a decision like that without having guarantees in terms of security," he told reporters.

"You can't throw 50,000 people out on the streets without having planned it in advanced."

Tunisia is a former French colony, like Morocco and Algeria whose teams have also played France at the Stade de France in recent years with similar incidents.

French junior sports minister Bernard Laporte said on Wednesday France should no longer play against its former North African colonies at the stadium.

"We should stop being hypocritical and should stop playing those matches," he told radio station RMC. "We won't go through this again, no more matches Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia at Stade de France."

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