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Togo fans blame players' greed for exit

Togolese fans railed against their West African team, blaming the players exit from the tournament on a disruptive pay dispute.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 04:02 IST

Togolese fans railed against their World Cup players on Monday and blamed the West African team's exit from the tournament on a disruptive pay dispute.

"Instead of concentrating on the matches, the young players spend their time claiming big bonuses for their performance," said Fofo Atsou, who is 34 and unemployed, in the capital Lome.

Switzerland beat Togo 2-0 on Monday, knocking them out of the tournament after a campaign marred by a pay dispute, a coaching crisis and a threatened player boycott of the match.

Fed up with the team's off-pitch antics, few taxi drivers in Lome bothered to wave national flags from their windows and there was little sign of excitement in the capital during Monday's game.

"I am very disappointed," said a client at a drinks stand at a busy junction in Lome. "Against South Korea, which is a tougher side than the Swiss, we made a good impression. I don't know what to say, except that they lacked audacity."

FIFA was forced to intervene on Sunday to persuade Togo's players to travel to Dortmund for the Monday match after they initially refused to leave their base in Wangen until the row over pay and bonuses was settled.

The team later said it had settled the long-running dispute - the second time in less than a week that Togo narrowly averted major crisis, risking serious damage to the image of African football.

Coach Otto Pfister walked out days before Togo's debut match against South Korea saying the pay dispute made it impossible to do his job, but returned less than 24 hours before that game.

Some fans blamed a controversial refereeing decision for the team's exit. Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor attempted to swerve round Patrick Mueller in the penalty area before seeming to be caught by the Swiss defender's flailing leg. To Togo's disgust, the referee ignored their penalty appeals.

Togo face their former colonial rulers France on Friday in their final Group G match on Friday.