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WORLD CUP 2014 - FRANCE V GERMANY

WORLD CUP

VIDEO: When a German ‘flattened a Frenchman’

Forget Luis Suarez and his appetite for an Italian, one of the most shocking moments in World Cup history was when France played Germany in 1982 and German goalkeeper left French player Patrick Battiston in a coma. Watch what happened and read this interview with Battiston.

VIDEO: When a German 'flattened a Frenchman'
Patrick Battiston is stretchered off the pitch after being poleaxed by German goalie Harald Schumacher. Photo: AFP

Frenchman Patrick Battiston's place in World Cup folklore is not down to a goal or piece of skill but for being knocked unconscious by German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher in the 1982 World Cup semi-final.

Schumacher's brutal shoulder charge on Battiston became known in France as the 'Tragedy of Seville'.

Battiston, now 57 and in charge of Ligue 1 side Bordeaux youth academy, kept his own counsel for a long time over the incident which happened just seven minutes after he had come on as a substitute and saw him lose a couple of teeth, suffer bruised ribs and damaged vertebrae and eventually slip into a coma.

With France set to face Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals on Friday – the first meeting at the finals between the two European titans since the 1986 semi-final which the French lost 2-0 – interest has once again been reignited in the dramatic events of that evening in Spain.

Battiston, who appeared in three World Cup finals and was a member of the French side that won the 1984 European championships, said it would be wrong to solely remember the game for what happened to him.

His terrible injuries not only carried a personal cost but also to the team as with only two substitutes allowed in those days Michel Hidalgo was forced to send on his final one.

The importance of fresh legs was brought home when despite leading 3-1 in extra-time the French wilted while the German substitutes engineered a comeback which saw them draw 3-3 and win on penalties.

"Entrenched in our memories is this charge by Schumacher who flattened the little Frenchman," said Battiston.

"That's how things are. People talk to me about 1982 often. But it wasn't only about me."

Battiston, capped 56 times, says he had already noticed before he came on to replace Bruno Genghini five minutes into the second-half that Schumacher was very pumped up.

"I remember his attitude even when I was sitting on the substitutes bench," said Battiston, who sticks to the belief that Schumacher's action was not intentional.

"I observed his behaviour, the way he clashed with Dominique Rocheteau and Didier Six. I thought he was very hyped up, very excitable. I remarked on this to the other players on the bench."

Schumacher's only regret is that he didn't realise how seriously injured Battiston was and instead of paying attention to him he strolled off, without even a booking.

The referee Charles Corver claimed afterwards he failed to see the incident because he was 'following the ball'.

However, Battiston was less impressed by Schumacher's remark that 'I will pay for the crowns' at the press conference afterwards when a journalist informed him of the extent of the Frenchman's injuries.

"That was not a very wise remark. It was pretty gauche," Battiston said.

"Still to his day I have a cracked vertebra and broken teeth."

Indeed it is Corver not Schumacher who bears the brunt of Battiston's ire today.

"Recently I tumbled upon by accident images of the match on Arte (a German/Franco financed TV station).

"I paid more attention to what happened on the pitch, after I had been stretchered off, as I had never seen them before.

Ten reasons why France is better than Germany

"The refereeing by Corver who did not whistle for obvious fouls when Germany went behind. That struck me as odd and we have the right to be astonished by that."

Battiston, little by little, regained some of the memories of that night.

Michel Platini holding his hand in the way someone holds a dying person's on the way to the hospital and worse the jokey discussion between Corver and Schumacher, both of whom appeared impervious as to the seriousness of what had happened and which revolted the whole of France.

A line was finally drawn under the incident at least on a personal front when Schumacher, shocked by the negative reaction to him back in Germany, asked his agent to organize a press conference between the two of them after the finals even though Battiston had already forgiven him.

"Maybe he did feel guilty, one can draw all sorts of conclusions as to what he did feel. All I know is that Schumacher was someone who wanted to win at all costs and he went way over the top that evening."

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FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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