French team's World Cup hotel is too costly, says junior minister

Posted Jun 7, 2010 by Johnny Summerton
With less than a week to go before the World Cup finals kick off in South Africa, the French junior minister for sport, Rama Yade, has caused a controversy by criticising the choice of accommodation for the French football team.
Rama Yade
Rama Yade
Marie-Lan Nguyen
In a radio interview on Sunday morning Yade suggested that the French Football Federation's (FFF) choice of the luxury five-star Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa in Knysna, Western Cape Province as the base camp for Les Bleus hadn't been appropriate at a time when everyone else was being encouraged to tighten their belts.
"I wouldn't have chosen this particular hotel," she said, noting that Spain, one of the favourites for the tournament, had opted for a university campus.
"Should France do well in the World Cup, then the choice of a site offering the best training conditions might well turn out to be a wise one," she continued.
"But if the team underperforms then there'll be some explaining to be done (on the choice of the hotel and its cost) by those in charge," she added.
"I hope that the French team will dazzle us more with their results rather than flashy hotels and I had called on the FFF to show some decency in these times of (economic) crisis."
Later in the day, Yade's immediate boss, Roselyne Bachelot, the minister for health and sport, while not openly criticising her junior minister's comments, didn't exactly back her up either.
And she refused to be drawn into what she called an "unnecessary controversy" over the national team's accommodation in South Africa.
"As far as I'm concerned, now is not the time to create a polemic over our team," she said when being interviewed on RTL national radio's Le Grand Jury, with Yade looking on in the audience.
"The team needs our support, and both Rama and I will be present during the World Cup," she continued. "The French Football Federation has made its choice, and they're the ones responsible," she added.
"It won't cost the taxpayer anything and now it's time to say 'stop' and get behind the team."
When interviewed by the news agency Agence France-Presse over his reactions to Yade's comments, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, the president of the FFF refused to be drawn into the debate. was interviewed by the news agency
"What do you want me to say?" he's quoted as responding.
"If the junior minister speaks, she speaks. I'm not going to make any comments about a hotel I don't yet know myself. It's not my role," he added.