Ribery looks to SA as ban upheld

Bayern player will miss Champs League final but French hopes rest on him at World Cup.

Ribery lifts the German Cup after Bayern beat Werder Bremen 4-0 at the weekend [AFP]

He may have lost his appeal from his ban for the European Champions League final but Franck Ribery has the hopes of a nation resting on him at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Former champions France have failed to impress since losing to Italy in the 2006 final in Germany, but in Ribery they have a player who could ignite any team.

The Bayern Munich midfielder will miss Saturday’s Champions League final against Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan after the German club failed in their last attempt to overturn a ban on Monday.

Bayern’s appeal against a three-match suspension imposed on the Frenchman for a bad tackle in the semi-finals against Lyon was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

France’s most popular player since the great Zinedine Zidane – himself sent off in that 2006 final – Ribery is certainly skilful but what sets him apart is his ability to cover every area of the pitch for 90 minutes.

“His muscle fibres allow him to run faster and longer than anyone else I’ve seen,” Georges Gacon, who was his fitness trainer at Marseille, once said.

“He’s like a living dynamo but he also works very hard.”

Kicked out

Ribery was once kicked out of the Lille academy because his school results were not good enough but he has matured to become, at 27, one of Europe’s top players.

“His muscle fibres allow him to run faster and longer than anyone else I’ve seen. He’s like a living dynamo but he also works very hard”

Georges Gacon, Ribery’s former fitness trainer

Born in the northern port city of Boulogne, like former European footballer of the year Jean-Pierre Papin, Ribery burst into the limelight during his spell at Marseille from 2005 to 2007, and kept improving after joining Bayern Munich that year.

Ribery, who has a long scar running down his right cheek from a car accident when he was two years old, has been slowed for the past two years by a string of injuries.

His most embarrassing moment, however, came last month when he was heard as a witness by police investigating a prostitution network.

Although he was not charged, French media suggested he had been a customer of a night club in Paris’s Champs-Elysees district that allegedly featured escort girls.

Ribery, who converted to Islam and has two children with his wife, Wahiba, who is of Algerian descent, was questioned only because he knew someone close to a person targeted in a procuring inquiry, his lawyer said.

His suspension means Bayern will be without one of their two most creative players as they take on one of Europe’s best defences on Saturday but coach Louis van Gaal was prepared to shrug off the loss.

“We do not depend on (Arjen) Robben or Ribery,” Van Gaal said on Monday before CAS announced the decision.

Ribery, who has already served one match of the ban, was dismissed for a high, late challenge on Lisandro Lopez.

Ribery was replaced by Hamit Altintop for the second leg against Lyon with the Turkish player winning praise for his performance.

Source: News Agencies