Zidane breaks silence to voice Blanc support

Paris: Zinedine Zidane broke his silence on
the French dual-nationality quota row to offer his support for
beleaguered France coach Laurent Blanc, his former team-mate.

Blanc is under investigation after the release of a
transcript of a meeting in which he and several other
officials allegedly discussed introducing quotas for
dual-nationality players at French youth training centres.

Several members of France`s 1998 World Cup-winning squad
have since spoken out about the affair but Zidane, the iconic
star of that side, had until yesterday been conspicuous by his

The son of Algerian parents, Zidane is uniquely placed to
offer an insight on the controversy encircling Blanc and he
told Sunday`s edition of the L`Equipe sport daily that his
former playing colleague should be left alone.

Asked if Blanc should step down as coach, Zidane replied:
"Of course not.”

"But I can tell you that he`s been really, really
affected. I think he`d started to do a great job.”

"We should leave things as they are. It would be mad for
him to leave over this. He must continue."

On the subject of the quotas, Zidane said: "When you see
this craziness, these approximations... Yes, they are really
heavy subjects, subjects that touch me, but there is also a
bad process regarding Laurent Blanc."

Asked if Blanc`s words in the meeting were
discriminatory, Zidane said: "No, and concerning Laurent,
let`s be straight and clear: I know him well, of course he`s
not racist.”

"I`ll go even further: he never even thinks like that
because it`s not an issue for him. I think that`s why he got
drawn into a discussion like that.”

"Lolo (Blanc) is someone spontaneous, who talks openly
and who doesn`t think for a second that his words could be

"And clearly, his words here were not only very clumsy
but they also came during a discussion where other expressions
were really borderline, such as this word `quota`.”

"The idea of selecting or discriminating against kids
over their dual-nationality is, for me, absurd."

Emmanuel Petit, another member of the 1998 team, had on
Friday implored Zidane to break his silence and "calm things
down by being the voice that everyone listens to" in a candid
video posted on the L`Equipe website.

Blanc`s comments during the meeting in November last
year, released by the Mediapart website, have created fissures
in the squad that lifted France`s first World Cup trophy 13
years ago.

Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira have both strongly
criticised Blanc, with Christophe Dugarry, Marcel Desailly,
Bixente Lizarazu and former coach Aime Jacquet rallying to his

Bureau Report

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