French Federation begins inquiry into racism row over quotas

The French Football Federation has begun an inquiry into claims that national coach Laurent Blanc and other coaches secretly agreed to restrict the number of black and Arab players in national training programs.

Investigative website Mediapart published explosive claims last week that the FFF proposed to limit to 30 percent the number of players of African and North African descent in training academies from the age of 13.



FFF technical director Francois Blaquart was suspended pending the result of the inquiry, which included a transcript of a conversation involving Blanc, Blaquart, under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts and under-20 coach Francis Smerecki in November.



In the transcript, an outraged Smerecki is quoted as speaking out angrily against the proposal, calling it a "discriminatory" idea that should never see the light of day. He has not yet commented on Mediapart's article.



The focus of the conversation was to find a way to limit the number of players with dual nationalities coming through the French youth teams before then deciding to play for their country of origin as adults.



All four of them will be interviewed this week by a special commission headed by Patrick Braouezec, who led the probe into the France team's strike at last year's World Cup. Laurent Davenas, the president of the FFF's ethics council, and a member of the French sports ministry will also be involved in the inquiry.



Blanc, on holiday in Italy, will be interviewed on either Friday or Saturday, Davenas said.



The quotas row came just as Blanc was beginning to turn the team's fortunes following the World Cup debacle, where — under former coach Raymond Domenech — the squad went on strike in protest at Nicolas Anelka's exclusion and was eliminated in the group stage without winning a match.



French sports minister Chantal Jouanno urgently requested an FFF inquiry, and set a deadline by the end of this week.



The conclusions will then be discussed further at an FFF federal council meeting next week, the federation said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it would make no further comment until then.



Andre Merelle, a former boss of France's national training center at Clairefontaine until being released by Blaquart in September, felt there was a problem with the perception of dual nationals within French football's hierarchy.



"During my time we were already reproached for taking so many blacks and Arabs," Merelle told Mediapart. "The argument that I was given was, 'We pay them, we bring them up, and then they go and play abroad (for another country)."'



Merelle said he felt very uneasy with some of the things he heard at Clairefontaine.



"If you listened to them it was like we were favoring the blacks and the Arabs," he said. "But the place of blacks and Arabs can be explained historically. Football is a working-class game: At one stage we had the Poles, the Italians.



"Regrets were expressed: 'There's a lot of blacks again this year. I was never explicitly told there are too many (of them) but what conclusion should I have drawn?"



France great Lilian Thuram, Blanc's teammate when France won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship, said he was shocked when he heard about possible race quotas. Former France defenders Basile Boli and Luc Sonor and former France goalkeeper Bernard Lama also expressed their outrage in recent days.



"Francois Blaquart deserves to resign," Sonor told Mediapart. "If France had played well at the World Cup, this would never have been spoken about. When things are going well, we (the blacks and the Arabs) are the best. When things go wrong, we're the scapegoats."



Others, like France midfielder Alou Diarra and striker Karim Benzema have publicly backed Blanc, although both said they were upset at the very thought of quotas.



Diarra, a France captain under Blanc, said late Monday on RMC radio that he hoped Blanc did not resign over the affair.



But Boli, who played 45 times for France, distanced himself from his former teammate Blanc.



"To have taken part in a meeting to talk about quotas is a scandal. That means it's been thought about," Boli told RMC. "I can't support anyone. On that (issue), it's impossible. I was of Ivory Coast origin, I chose the France team."



Merelle says the dual nationality argument is easily settled.



"Those who go and play for their countries of origin (do so) because they have scant chance of being picked for France," he said. "We've also profited from this dual nationality issue. We've taken dual nationals who opted to play for France, like David Trezeguet. As for Gonzalo Higuain, we would have liked to."

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil