President Nicolas Sarkozy damned the shamed French football squad, saying the team had been "disastrous" for their country's image at the World Cup in South Africa.
"The image shown by the French team in South Africa? Disastrous. I said: 'Those in charge must go'. They are gone, let's not heap abuse on them. The players shouldn't get bonuses. They didn't," he said.
Sarkozy, who had already privately made known his displeasure at France's woeful campaign, was responding publicly for the first time since the team's first round exit during a television interview on Monday.
Explaining why he had taken time out of his political schedule to meet former team captain Thierry Henry on June 24, Sarkozy said that he had wanted to learn more about why the team had failed so badly.
France failed to win any of its three first round games and scored only once in what had been considered a fairly easy group, in a campaign marked by bitter team infighting and and one-day training strike by the players.