Wednesday 22 November 2017

French football chiefs 'wanted limit on black players'

Gerard Houllier. Photo: PA
Gerard Houllier. Photo: PA

Henry Samuel in Paris

French football chiefs have been accused of secretly approving unofficial quotas on the number of "athletic" black and Arab players in favour of "intelligent" white players in youth academies groomed for the national squad.

Senior figures within the French Football Federation, including the national coach Laurent Blanc, backed plans for a 30pc limit for the number of non-white players once they reach 13 years of age, according to the website Mediapart.

It cites sources inside the federation as naming Francois Blaquart, the new head of the federation's National Technical Board (DTN), as a key proponent of the alleged plan.

In February, shortly after his appointment, Mr Blaquart spoke of the necessity to "prioritise intelligence in the game with respect to the technical and, above all, athletic aspect".

Blanc is reported to have approved a selection process favouring young talent sharing "our culture, our history".

The site's sources added that Blanc cited the world champions Spain, saying: "The Spanish, they say, 'we don't have a problem. We have no blacks'."

During a DTN meeting last year, Blanc is quoted as suggesting that a stereotype of player, which he reportedly described as "large, strong, powerful", needed to be changed.

Blanc denied any knowledge of the alleged plan, saying "there is no plan to introduce quotas. "It's a lie to say that the France coach was involved."

But Andre Merelle, a former boss of the French national football training centre at Clairefontaine, confirmed the DTN had tried to reduce the number of players of African descent.

"It was under (current Aston Villa coach) Gerard Houllier's helm," he said. "There was no official quota policy, but a reflection about the numbers of black and Arabs. According to them, and that includes Francois Blaquart, there were too many."

The federation said it would hold an internal investigation. into the claims. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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