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France

Blanc cleared of discrimination charges in racism row

© Reuters

Laurent Blanc, the coach of the French national football team, was cleared of allegations of racial discrimination by the French Minister for Sport Chantal Jouanno on Tuesday. 

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Jouanno said there was nothing to suggest that Laurent Blanc in any way gave his support to discriminatory actions.

"The means of limiting dual-nationals was in effect debated," she continued. "It was brought up in an awkward and uncalled for manner. It was alluded to in a manner which bordered on racist but there was no project to establish quotas."

French investigative website Mediapart claimed on 28 April that Blanc and others discussed a plan to introduce a quota system to restrict the numbers of players of black and Arab origin able to enter France’s youth academy system.

The affair has caused a storm of controversy for the French Football Federation. Prominent figures in French football have given their views on the row in recent days.

Lilian Thuram, born in Guadeloupe and France’s most capped player said when he first heard about the controversy throught friends in Guadeloupe he thought it was a bad joke.

“When will we emerge from this cycle? When will we escape from these prejudices about skin colour?” he said.

Zinedine Zidane, who has Algerian ancestry and who won the World Cup with Thuram and Blanc in 1998, came to the defence of his former teammate on Sunday:

“I know him (Blanc) well, he is not a racist,” Zidane told L’Equipe newspaper.

The scandal comes after the embarrassment of last year’s World Cup tournament in South Africa, where the French team refused to train in protest at then manager Raymond Domenech’s decision to send striker Nicolas Anelka home during the tournament.

The 2006 finalists finished bottom of their group.

 

 

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