France Might Face Early World Cup Exit After Loss to Mexico

Defeat to Mexico might send French team home early.

PARIS, June 18, 2010— -- "Shameful," "Appalling," "Impostors" were just a few of the newspaper headlines the French confronted at newsstands today, headlines that described their team's disastrous performance at the World Cup in South Africa Thursday night.

France lost to Mexico 2-0 in the second Group A game and faces an early World Cup exit.

This was Mexico's first-ever victory over France.

On French streets Friday morning, the previous night's loss was the main topic of conversation. In Paris, passersby could be heard discussing the game as they talked and walked with cell phones glued to their ears.

"Hopeless" one woman told ABC News, when asked for her reaction, pointing her thumb downward.

"I'm very disappointed. I was very sad at the end of the game," said soccer fan Julien Lapalus. "But I'm not really surprised. We knew they were not going to do better than this."

The French team's poor performances, and the controversial and unpopular French coach Raymond Domenech, has fed a disenchantment among French soccer fans that has lingered for years.

And Thursday night, the breakup was complete.

French fans had hoped for a spurt of enthusiasm on behalf of their national team after a scoreless and uninspired tie game against Uruguay the previous week. But it never came. The arrogance shown by coach Domenech and some of his key players exasperated French fans.

"We don't feel there is a desire to play" on behalf of Les Bleus, said Celine Morin, in Levallois-Perret, a northwest suburb of Paris.

"It's a fiasco. It is just the continuation of what we've been seeing over the past few years, with the elimination of France in the first round of the Euro 2008 championship," said David Laouenan. "I was actually quite pleased that they lost last night. May be it will put some of the players back in their place."

"There is no team cohesion. There is no team at all, as a matter of fact. We have great players -- most of them play for the best Europeans teams, but they can't play together," Julien Vasseur explained.

Did France Belong in the World Cup?

Some soccer enthusiasts have gone as far to question whether France belonged in this year's World Cup at all.

"This was expected," explained Neil Bandali. "The qualification for the World Cup was already chaotic and even a bit stolen. I think last night's defeat was well deserved."

Last November, France qualified for the World Cup in South Africa by beating Ireland in Paris following an intentional hand ball by French striker Thierry Henry that set up the decisive goal. FIFA, soccer's world governing body, never punished Henry for what millions of replay watchers saw but that escaped the referee.

France needs to advance to the second round of the tournament. The 1998 champions and the 2006 runner-ups (France lost to Italy that year), with one point from two games, faces host South Africa in the final pool match Tuesday.

Uruguay and Mexico, who top the group with four points each, will both qualify if they draw their match next week and eliminate France and South Africa. If Mexico losses to Uruguay, France will have to beat South Africa by at least four goals. If Uruguay loses to Mexico, France will have to beat South Africa by at least five goals. In the last four games, France has scored only one goal.

This could spell an early exit for France, and he end of Domenech's career as France's head coach.

The beloved Laurent Blanc, a former player who was part of the squad that won the World Cup in 1998, will step in and replace Domenech -- and that's what France has pinned its hopes on for the future of French soccer.