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French press review 4 June 2015

Sepp Blatter, French schools, Greek debts and suspicions about the Sarkozy presidency. If you feel you've heard it all before, you're probably right. But it was organised differently yesterday and will be different again tomorrow. Welcome to the revolving door of the French press.


In the game of media musical chairs, Sepp Blatter moves this morning to the front page of Le Monde, while the Greek debt crisis shifts to Catholic La Croix.

Yesterday, you'll remember, Blatter was all over the place and the Greek borrowings, paying back of, were getting the heavy treatment from Le Monde and communist L'Humanité.

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So is anything getting any clearer? Is the world football body Fifa likely to be declared a corruption-free zone? Will Athens manage to borrow enough money by tomorrow to pay off the latest round of debts?

The answer to all three questions is probably not.

Le Monde offers to reveal the reasons for Blatter's surprise resignation as president of Fifa, a job he clinched only last Friday. They don't. Reveal the reasons, that is. The centrist paper simply pours out the same watery speculation as everybody else.

What is certain is that bribery has been rife in Fifa for a while now, with the American vice-president Chuck Blazer admitting that he "and others on the Fifa executive committee" took bribes in connection with the selection of South Africa as the 2010 host nation.

Blazer's testimony also casts doubt on the honesty of the awarding of the 1998 World Cup to France, with question marks over the next two competitions, in Russia and Qatar.

Fifa thus needs a new president, a clean-up, a major charm offensive and, perhaps, a new venue for the already controversial 2022 World Cup finals. The English football federation, beaten by Qatar for the rights to host the 2022 competition, say they'll be watching closely for any evidence that the emirate got the nod through cheating. In which case London will ask for the rejected candidates to be reconsidered.

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Speaking of Qatar, French paper Libération asks if that Gulf emirate is really a friend of the West.

The Fifa scandal has once again raised the question of how a country without any football tradition managed to pip somewhere like England. And that has reminded everyone of the allegations of slavery on the stadium building sites, where as many as 1,200 workers may already have lost their lives. Worse, says Libé, there are suspicions that the tiny state is financing the Islamic holy warriors of Al-Nusra, less barbarous than Islamic State but still with their roots in Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

Communist L'Humanité looks at French schools, not to rehash the debate on how history should be taught, but to point out that 1.2 million French school children come from families classified as either poor or very poor and thus face an increased risk of failure. The real problem facing the nation's educators is to find ways of compensating the poor kids for the difficulties in their backgrounds.

Right-wing Le Figaro says France has decided to reorganise the national nuclear sector, letting the electricity supplier EDF take over the running and maintenance of French reactors from loss-making Areva and attempting to refloat that company as a specialist constructor of nuclear sites. It will take a bit of refloating, having lost seven billion euros since 2011, and with financial needs estimated between at five and seven billion over the next two years.

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And then there's the edifying spectacle, gleefully - sorry objectively - reported by left-leaning Libération, of six close collaborators of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, in police custody for questioning about the contracts they variously signed with opinion poll companies.

The problem is that Sarkozy spent 10 million euros on opinion polls while he was president between 2007 and 2012. But it is not clear that the then-president went through the normal official channels in awarding those contracts. He may have favoured companies owned and run by friends.

Libération says the presidential records covering the period of interest have mysteriously gone missing.

Eat you heart out, Fifa!


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