France coach Deschamps picks Evra for Ukraine playoff

Thu Nov 7, 2013 9:01am EST
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps drew a line under the Patrice Evra affair when he picked the Manchester United defender on Thursday in a 24-man squad to face Ukraine in their World Cup playoff.

Evra was cleared by the French federation after he called former internationals Luis Fernandez and Bixente Lizarazu "bums" in a TV interview last month.

"He was eligible so I decided to pick him," Deschamps, who otherwise only added Lille midfielder Rio Mavuba to the squad who beat Australia 6-0 in a friendly and Finland 3-0 in their final World Cup qualifier, told a news conference.

"I and the players are focused on a very important meeting for us. You can write whatever you want. Internally we are focused on sport."

Grilled on the matter by reporters, a slightly annoyed Deschamps added :

"I choose on sporting criteria. You can write whatever you want."

France have made the headlines for off-field reasons in recent past.

In 2010, several players, including then captain Evra, were banned after being implicated in a strike in support of striker Nicolas Anelka who had insulted coach Raymond Domenech.   Continued...

France's national soccer player Patrice Evra (L) sits in the team bus after arriving at the airport in Bloemfontein June 21, 2010. FREUTERS/Jorge Silva