French Football suspends official over `race quota` claim
Paris: The French Football Federation`s (FFF) national technical director Francois Blaquart has been suspended amid a row over an alleged project to enforce racial quotas in youth academies, Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno said on Saturday.
"Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno and FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy have decided to suspend immediately national technical director Francois Blaquart pending the conclusions of an investigation led by the FFF and the IGJS (General Inspection of Youth and Sports)," Jouanno said in a statement.
The statement said the investigation was expected to be completed within eight days.
On Thursday, French investigative website Mediapart, citing sources within the FFF, said Blaquart proposed to enforce racial quotas to limit the number of players of black or Arab origin in youth academies.
On Saturday, Mediapart published a verbatim report of a meeting at which France coach Laurent Blanc, Blaquart, under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts and under-20 coach Francis Smerecki, among others, had a debate over players with dual nationality groomed in France eventually opting to play for their country of origin.
France team media officer Philippe Tournon said on Saturday: "It was a debate on players with dual nationality. Causes and effects are being confused here.”
"There is no official comment now but I`m in contact with Laurent Blanc and the federation and there could be some reaction in the afternoon."
Blanc, who won the 1998 World Cup with a team dubbed `Black-Blanc-Beur` (Blacks, Whites and Arabs) by French media, has often raised the issue of dual nationality players.
He denied, however, being in favour of quotas in youth academies.
"No such project has been revealed to me. It`s a lie," Blanc told a news conference in Bordeaux on Friday.
"You cannot have quotas in football. It does not exist. Football is made of diversity."