French football chiefs accused of setting racial quotas

French football chiefs were accused Thursday of using secret quotas to limit the number of Black and Arab players in training programmes. French national team coach Laurent Blanc denies allegations that he supported the quotas.

French investigative website Médiapart published a report Thursday that claimed to reveal a system of racial discrimination against young football players in national training programmes. Citing sources from within the French Football Federation (FFF), the website reported that academies had been asked to recruit no more than 30 percent of their players over the age of 12 or 13 from among Blacks or Arabs.

Médiapart says that “numerous” sources told them of a meeting of the FFF’s National Development Programme (DTN) on 8 November 2010, when the secret quota was proposed. According to the same sources, French national team coach Laurent Blanc responded favourably to the proposition, citing Les Bleus’ Spanish counterparts – the current world champions – as a team “that doesn’t have any problems and doesn’t have any Blacks”.

According to Médiapart, this is not the first time players of foreign origin have been discriminated against. The website reports that, in 1997, young North African players had their bags searched by DTN officials, allegedly to check that they were not carrying prayer mats. It also reported accounts of DTN officials referring to Muslim players as Islamists or Saracens.

Blanc has already been accused of courting controversy since taking on the role of French national coach last summer. One of the first things he did as boss was to ban Halal meat from players’ meals.

France 24, 29 April 2011

See also the Guardian, 30 April 2011