Minister's World Cup bill revealed

Sports secretary Rama Yade had criticised French footballers' expensive hotel - but her booking cost even more.

15 June 2010

A FRENCH politician who criticised the national football team's choice of luxury hotel for the World Cup had planned to stay in an even more expensive one herself, it has been revealed.

Sports Secretary Rama Yade was reprimanded by some of her colleagues earlier this month after she made comments about the "flashiness" of the Bleus' five-star beach-side Pezula Resort, where rooms cost €589 a night.

She urged the team to "show decency" and said the choice of resort was inappropriate in a time of economic crisis.

Now satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné has discovered that Ms Yade had booked herself and five others from her office into an even flashier hotel. Her suite cost €667 a night, according to the paper.

After she publicly criticised the team's choice of hotel, she tried to cancel her booking but the Health Ministry had already paid the bill and refunds were not available.

She decided to spend two nights of her stay in the French consul's residency instead, and a third in a €120-a-night guest house - adding to the original bill.

The newspaper estimates that Ms Yade's stay in South Africa has cost the taxpayer at least €45,000 - of which €37,000 was spent on Air France business-class travel for her group.

The minister and the French national team have kept their distance during the tournament so far. The Bleus visited a township on Sunday without her.

Defender Eric Abidal told journalists at a press conference this week that the team had written a letter to the minister about her comments.

France's first match in the tournament, against Uruguay, was a goal-less draw. The Bleus play Mexico tomorrow and host nation South Africa on June 22.

Related stories:
Minister told off for World Cup dig
Little chance of World Cup glory

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