Nicolas Anelka amused by suspension

Updated: August 18, 2010, 9:01 PM ET
Associated Press

PARIS -- Nicolas Anelka scoffed at his 18-match suspension from France's national football team, saying it has him "dying of laughter."

The French Football Federation suspended the Chelsea striker Tuesday for his profane tirade against France's then-coach Raymond Domenech at the World Cup. Anelka was sent home from South Africa, prompting a player strike.

Who said I wanted to play again in blue ... for me, after the World Cup in South Africa, the French team is now history.

-- France striker Nicolas Anelka

In an interview in France Soir newspaper on Wednesday, Anelka called the suspension a "masquerade to not lose face."

"These people are real clowns ... I'm dying of laughter," the report quoted Anelka.

The 18-match ban is expected to last for nearly two years, meaning that by the time he's again eligible to play for "Les Bleus," Anelka will be 33 and unlikely to be recalled.

"Who said I wanted to play again in blue?" he asked, adding that "for me, after the World Cup in South Africa, the French team is now history."

All 23 players on France's World Cup squad boycotted a training session in South Africa to protest Anelka's expulsion after he insulted Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico.

The French federation summoned the five players who played a leading role in the boycott to a hearing Tuesday. Anelka and Franck Ribery didn't attend and sent lawyers instead.

Ribery, who was vice captain at the World Cup, was prevented from traveling to the hearing by his club, Bayern Munich, before the team's opening Bundesliga match on Friday.

The French federation's disciplinary commission handed former captain Patrice Evra a five-match ban, Ribery a three-match ban and Jeremy Toulalan a one-match suspension. The players can appeal.

Eric Abidal, the fifth player summoned to the four-hour hearing, wasn't punished.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press