France winger Franck Ribery, the reigning UEFA player of the year, third-place finisher in voting for the most recent Ballon d’Or (given by FIFA to the top player in the world) and his team’s best attacking player, will not play in the World Cup because of a back injury that was exacerbated in practice on Friday, the France soccer federation announced.
“He had to stop in training, the pain was too strong,” Deschamps said, per the BBC. “He is not capable of training for a few weeks, let alone play a game.”
Ribery, 31, played for France in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, He was at the center of controversy at the last World Cup after being accused, along with teammate Nicolas Anelka, of freezing out another player and failing to lead the team. After Anelka was sent home, Ribery and the team boycotted a training session. He received a three-match international suspension from the French soccer federation because of the incident.
In qualifying for this World Cup, Ribery had a hand in 11 of France’s 18 overall goals, scoring five times and notching six assists.
Midfielder Clement Grenier also will miss the World Cup with a groin injury, the team announced. Remy Cabella — who has only one appearance for France, as a substitute — and Morgan Schneiderlin — who has never played a game for France — will replace them on the roster.
“I’m very sad for them,” Deschamps told the Associated Press. “I wasn’t expecting this. If they were here it’s because I was counting on them, and the signs were very positive.”
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