'Racism played no part in Deschamps' decision' to drop Bemzema - Marcel Desailly
Published 02/06/2016 | 02:30
Marcel Desailly has backed Didier Deschamps' decision to leave Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa out of France's squad for the Euros.
The French manager, who played alongside Desailly when they won the World Cup in 1998, had come in for criticism from Eric Cantona, who suggested that the pair may have been omitted on racial grounds.
Benzema is embroiled in a legal dispute with his French team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over an alleged attempt by one of his friends to blackmail him over a sex tape.
The Real Madrid striker yesterday claimed that Deschamps "bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France" but Desailly rubbished the race accusations.
"Everyone has seen the whole scenario of what happened," he said. "He (Deschamps) was scared about any problem with Benzema - any media issue. The friends of Valbuena in the team who would probably create something.
"As a coach and a president of the federation, you have to make a decision and a statement. They waited quite a while before that.
"En Francais, 'partie civile'. This means that through the law, they had access to all of the files of what happened. They know a lot of things that we don't know - things that have happened inside this case.
"Through that, they have decided to make a decision. It's a big blow for Didier, but there is no racism in football.
"As a coach, you want your best players. Maybe when you are nine or ten, you can be influenced by the social level of the parent because competition is not there.
"But once you reach a decent level from 15, even 13, the best are playing no matter their colour, the origin or whatever. You put your best player inside."
Desailly added that Ben Arfa was left out purely because he does not fit Deschamps' system and not for any other reason as Cantona suggested.