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Minister uncomfortable with selection

France's Minister for Health and Sports, Roselyne Bachelot, has renewed her opposition to the continued selection of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema in the national team.

The pair are currently under judicial investigation on suspicion of soliciting sex with an underage prostitute, but new France coach Laurent Blanc has reassured them the door remains open for future selection.

Bachelot was an outspoken critic of former coach Raymond Domenech's World Cup squad both during and after their dreadful campaign in South Africa, which ended in acrimonious infighting after Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka was thrown out of the squad.

And she has been consistent in her opposition to Ribery and Benzema's inclusion - although she has pledged not to directly intervene.

She told Europe 1: "I respect what Laurent Blanc will do. These men are innocent (until proven guilty) but it makes it very difficult if someone under investigation can be selected in the France team.

"I will not set out a process - I will simply say that there is the judiciary procedure on one side and the France team on another."

Blanc said last Wednesday: "You have to respect the presumption of innocence, and the interest of the France team has to be fundamental. Ribery and Benzema are among the players who are potentially very influential in the team."

Blanc suspended the entire World Cup squad for next week's friendly against Norway after their dismal performances and training-ground mutiny in South Africa, meaning Ribery will automatically be excluded from the match.

Benzema, though, was a surprise exclusion from Domenech's 23-man party and the Real Madrid man can reasonably expect to be included in the group which travels to Oslo.


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