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Michel Kane

Sarkozy to take over from Blanc for Euro 2012...

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Members of the French Football Federation's National Technical Board, including the France team coach Laurent Blanc, have secretly approved a quota selection process to reduce the number of young black players, and those of North African origin, emerging from the country's youth training centres as potential candidates for the national team, Mediapart can reveal.

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The plan, presented in November 2010, involves limiting the number of youngsters from black and Meghrebi African origin entering the selection process from training centres and academies as early as 12 and 13 years of age.

Sources inside the French Football Federation (FFF), who have expressed outrage at the plan, have told Mediapart that a number of training centre directors were notified of the quota stipulations over recent weeks. Among the centres made aware of the quota plan is the French National Football Institute, the INF (Institut National du Football ), based at the Clairefontaine national training centre west of Paris.

Clairefontaine is a renowned FFF training academy that has coached many of France's top football stars, including Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Louis Saha and William Gallas.

According to several people present at meetings within the FFF, François Blaquart, the newly-appointed head of the Federation's National Technical Board (DTN), and who as such is effectively one of the most influential figures in France's most popular sport, has, along with several other members of the DTN, successfully argued for a plan to implement a discrimination process.

Mediapart understands that Blaquart proposed a quota that set a 30% cap on the selection at training centres of certain categories of youth players during a DTN meeting on November 8th 2010. Sources told Mediapart that Blaquart warned those present that "this must not be said".

Mediapart has also learnt that, during the November meeting, France national team coach Laurent Blanc said he was "favourable" for a change in the selection criteria for youth talent as of the age of 12 to 13 years in order to favour those who sources said he described as having "our culture, our history". The sources added that Blanc cited the current would football champions Spain, reportedly saying: "The Spanish, they say ‘we don't have a problem. We have no blacks'".

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In 'France and the 1998 World Cup', a book published in 1999 following France's victorious World Cup played out at home the previous year, former DTN chief, ex-Liverpool manager and current coach of UK Premier League club Aston Villa, Gérard Houllier, wrote in a preface: "Coaching policy in France is under the control of the Direction Technique National of the French Football Federation, and the DTN has always made coaching its principle objective. Ever concerned to improve its activities, the DTN even introduced a far-reaching scheme of Youth Development (‘pré-formation', or ‘pre-training') for very young players who can learn advanced skills in seven centres across France. The current élite of players of the French First Division have all developed their skills in one of these centres, and the policy of Youth Development has turned out to be a total success, promising a rosy future for French football in the coming years."

A report commissioned in 2010 by the DTN, which controls French football coaching policy, and which focused on the results at the INF coaching centre at Clairefontaine, concluded that too many players with dual nationality, or who can claim dual nationality, go on to join a foreign national team after being trained in France.

Under article 15 of the rules and regulations of FIFA, the international governing body of football, players with dual nationality are authorised, since 2004, to be be selected for either one of their countries' teams, on the condition that they have not already played for the A-team (over 21s) of the other.

According to Mediapart sources, the DTN has never, in its discussions on the subject, detailed the problem in terms of nationality but rather in terms of "blacks" and "beurs"1 - the latter a popular French term used to describe people of North African origin.

Similarly, Mediapart has learnt that Laurent Blanc told a DTN meeting that it was necessary "to limit" the number of French players with a second nationality and who "leave to play in North African or African teams", but without mentioning examples of the countries concerned.

In an interview published in April 2011 by the FFF's official magazine Foot Mag, French Under-21 team coach

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Erick Mombaerts commented: "We have no need of a player who is not fond of the blue jersey. Let's have the courage to go the heart of our ideas on this matter. And let's not forget another problem raised by Laurent Blanc, [which is] losing our young international players [...] We need to find specific solutions."

Mombaerts told a DTN meeting last year that two leading French football clubs, Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais, had unofficially already begun operating a quota system at their own training academies, and that their example was currently being followed by other clubs.

But the DTN's concerns about the racial origins of the France team even extend to the issue of the morphology of players, notably black players.

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Mediapart has learnt that during a DTN meeting last year, Laurent Blanc suggested that a stereotype of player, which he reportedly described as "large, strong, powerful" needed to be changed. According to Mediapart's sources, he told the meeting of DTN board members: "And who are the large, strong, powerful? The blacks. That's the way it is. It is a current fact. God knows that in the training centres and football academies, there are lots."

Contacted by Mediapart, Lyon's training director Rémi Garde denied the suggestion the club had begun imposing ethnic quotas. "It is not a question of colour, but a question of profile," he said. "We have always tried to recruit players who have a certain intelligence for the game. But you can be big, strong and intelligent. We'll listen to the messages from the DTN, but for the moment, we haven't yet discussed anything."

Marseille football club did not answer our request for an interview.

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Already in March 2010, Under-21 national team coach Erick Mombaerts told French daily Le Monde: "Should only athletic players be recruited? [...] In 1998, the team was ‘white, black, beur', today it's more like ‘black, beur, white'". Shortly after he was confirmed in his post as DTN director in February, François Blaquart spoke at a press conference of the necessity "to prioritise intelligence in the game with respect to the technical and, above all, athletic aspect."

While some DTN staff began to toy with this type of discrimination some years ago, the idea of "limiting", as it is described within the FFF, the proportion of black and ‘beur' players who reach a place in the national team , the French team's mutiny at the soccer World Cup last summer in South Africa appears to have swayed the idea for many more.

At the time many, members of the DTN expressed the view, in official meetings or in private, that black players like team captain Patrice Evra or Muslim players (including the converted Franck Ribéry) were mainly responsible for the fiasco in South Africa.

Shortly after the World Cup such ideas were mooted during a DTN meeting in Ouistreham, Normandy, held from July 18th to 21st. Only two DTN managers expressed disagreement with this vision of the future, one FFF official present at the meeting told Mediapart.

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Af_sud.jpg

One of the first measures taken by Laurent Blanc when he became coach for Les Bleus last summer was to ban halal meat from the players' meals. He told French television at the time that out of respect for Muslims, there would be no pork either. However, the French team's meals do not usually contain pork, a meat that is said to be too fatty for top-level sportsmen.

Several former FFF officials have told Mediapart of an incident in 1997 when DTN officials ordered searches of bags belonging to players of Maghrebi origin in the national youth team (16-17-year-olds), to check they were not carrying prayer mats.

The following year, in 1998, the victory of France and the Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram generation at the World Cup tournament in Paris, which inspired the ‘blanc, black, beur' description to denote their racial mix, helped to briefly obscure cultural and racial differences.

But things have changed since, notably following the French team's rout last summer in South Africa. Mediapart has been told it is is not uncommon to hear DTN officials talk privately about Muslim players as Islamists or Saracens.

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Asked by weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche in early April this year why only two coaches in France are black, Pierre Repellini, vice-president of Unecatef, the professional association representing French coaching staff, replied: "Is it a question of ability? Or is it too hard to get qualifications? Or perhaps they just don't care? It's hard to say."

Sources have told Mediapart how, at an official meeting on March 18th this year, DTN officials showed a series of photos depicting the composition of the 20 or so youth teams playing in the amateur Paris league, the 'division d'honneur'. The proportion of blacks and Arabs was, as is currently often the case, very high. The message, according to the sources, was clearly that this must change.

On April 27th, Mediapart contacted DTN head François Blaquart for a reply to the allegations, beginning with those concerning the DTN's approval of the principle of racial quotas in French football. "If you prove to me that this has been put in writing, that you have it, that it has been made available to you or that someone is a witness to what you say, I am prepared to hear your questions," he said.

"But in no case has this been discussed in an institutional way, or in an official way, or in writing, or in reports," he continued. " That's all. Now when people talk, I don't know, they can take percentages or they can talk about other things."

"In all discussions there are positions that can be considered as excessive, that is the point of any debate," Blaquart added. "But in no instance has any decision emerged from any such discussions."

Under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts told Mediapart "problems of a racial type have never been raised" at the DTN. "No, there is no question of quotas for the moment."

Asked about reports from several sources that he had said that not all "whites" have had their chance to play football in France, Mombaerts said: "Often that is the way nature is. They are often less mature and so inevitably we see them less and they emerge at a later stage."

Laurent Blanc was also contacted via the French national team's press attaché, Philippe Tournon, but did not reply to our requests for an interview

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lol madness

not winning sh*t

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what is Mediapart though?

some well far fetched sh*t it smells like

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white man stay winning

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what is Mediapart though?

some well far fetched sh*t it smells like

Newspaper in France

This whole story of a quota is disgusting.

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f*ck*ng hell, some of that is truly f*cked.

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Quite rediculous.

Marcel Desailly

Lilian Thuram

David Trezeguet

Thierry Henry

Zinedine Zidane

Karembeu

Patrick Viera

Black and players of African decent i can remember off head in France's world cup winning side.

Again its quite ridiculous. Smh.

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There lost tbh, who cares

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There lost tbh, who cares

when you think of it deeper everyone loses.

Imagine all the black and north african kids who might not be able to take their families out of poverty now, its actually peak.

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

This pissed me off. The guy's pissed he wasn't playing in '98 final.

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

This pissed me off. The guy's pissed he wasn't playing in '98 final.

It's such a flawed thing to say, Spain have never had black players (up until 08 when they had Senna) and they won f*ck all for 40+ years, during that time both Brazil and France had periods of dominance with plenty of black players.

I cannot wait to hear the opinion of Henry, Desailly, Zidane etc on this.

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Suspended French DTN Francois Blaquart tells AFP that quotes reported by Mediapart are accurate but that quota plan was "abandoned".

I'm actually in disbelief right now.

Laurent Blanc issues statement apologising over race row. "If I hurt anyone's feelings, I apologise."

Blanc: "But to be suspected of racism or xenophobia when I'm against all forms of discrimination, I cannot accept."

Blanc: "The debate was not about 'reducing the number of blacks and Arabs' but addressing the delicate problem of dual-nationality players."

Yes, definitely. The National Technical Director (DTN), Francois Blaquart, has already been suspended.

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Blanc: "The debate was not about 'reducing the number of blacks and Arabs' but addressing the delicate problem of dual-nationality players."

SUUUUUURE

wonder what the players make of this.

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f*ck it im c/s the movement

they have the right to be pissed off.... for every zidane, henry and thuram you have 4 maybe 5 times the amount of players going through the french system then snubbing france

just checked on fm to confirm my suspicions there is more then 500 players who are french but have chosen to play for other countries thats actually MAD

people should concentrate on the racism in this country

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and so what?

france give these people an easy route to getting french citizenship

they dnt have to play for france evn if they learnt it all at clairefontaine

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france give these people an easy route to getting french citizenship

snm

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