Thuram 'hurt' by reports of French racial quotas

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The Independent Football

Lilian Thuram, a former World Cup winner and long-time campaigner against racism in France, believes reports that members of the French Football Federation (FFF) sought to restrict numbers of players from ethnic minorities exposes "something very serious".

On Saturday, François Blaquart, the FFF's technical director, was suspended after claims he was involved in restricting the numbers of players of black African and north African origin entering national academies and training centres at the age of 12.

France coach Laurent Blanc and Erick Mombaerts, his under-21 counterpart, were also at a meeting with Blaquart where the "quota system" was discussed, although both have denied any involvement. The reason for the limits was said to be down to the number of players who were schooled in France before playing for other countries. The FFF are conducting an investigation.

"Of course you feel hurt," Thuram said yesterday. "First of all, it's a false problem because the best players will be taken on by France. The ones who go on to play for another country are the ones France didn't want. I fear that it's true and that we're in the middle of something very serious. When will we emerge from this cycle? When will we escape from these prejudices about skin colour?"

Fernand Duchaussoy, head of the FFF, dismissed the affair as "a surprising, unfair and scandalous hotchpotch". Duchaussoy, bizarrely, accused "people" of trying to "destabilise" the FFF.

On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund won their first Bundesliga title since 2002 after beating Nuremberg 2-0. Milan need one point to win Serie A after a 1-0 win over Bologna yesterday.