Wednesday, May 04, 2011
One can only imagine how the players at this meeting reacted to hearing their national coach talk like a Klansman.
Mohammed Belkacemi, a respected official responsible for liaising with young players in suburbs and highrise estates, on Wednesday admitted he was the whistleblower who had recorded the controversial meeting in November 2010 where race quotas were discussed. It is believed he gave the tape to other officials rather than directly to the media.
The French national coach Laurent Blanc first flatly denied any discussion about quotas, then apologised for any offence about certain terms he used.
The recordings show officials were debating French players with dual-nationality who could train in France but leave to play for other teams. Several officials suggested limiting these players. Blanc reportedly talks about black players' morphology. He says of the training centres, which produced French champions such as Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka: You have the impression that they really train the same prototype of players, big, strong, powerful … What is there that is currently big, strong, powerful? The blacks. He said other criteria should be used to bring in players with our culture, our history.
INITIAL POST: From The Guardian:
In response, the technical director of the French Football Federation, Francois Blauquart, has been suspended pending an investigation. But it just seems to get worse with every new revelation:
France has been plunged into a fresh race crisis after claims that football officials tried to limit black and Arab players on youth training schemes to make the French team more white.
The French football federation has opened an internal investigation after website Mediapart reported that top management approved a quota system to limit young black players and those of north African origin emerging as candidates for the national team. The alleged plan involved limiting non-white youngsters as young as 12 or 13 from entering the selection process through training centres and academies.
For the top brass in French football, the issue is settled: there are too many blacks, too many Arabs, and not enough white players in French football, the website said.
According to Mediapart, one of the most senior football federation figures wanted to set a cap of 30% on players of certain origins, but insisted at a meeting the quota should be kept quiet. At another meeting, the French national team coach Laurent Blanc allegedly backed changing youth talent selection criteria to favour players with our culture, our history. Sources claimed Blanc cited current world champions Spain, saying: The Spanish, they say: 'We don't have a problem. We have no blacks'.
Note the deviousness of Blanc's emphasis upon the loss of players trained in France because of their dual nationality. By speaking critically of it, he motivates even more French Arabs to play for their countries of origin, insuring that the French national team is predominately constituted of players with our culture, our history. No need to worry, though, we can sure that Sarkozy will get to the bottom of it, given his empathy for Arabs living in France.
On Saturday Mediapart published further claims about a meeting at which Blaquart, the France coach, Laurent Blanc, the under-21 coach, Erick Mombaerts, and the under-20 coach, Francis Smerecki, among others, allegedly debated African players with dual nationality who were groomed in France but opted to play for their country of origin.
We can mark out, in an unspoken way, a sort of quota. But it needs to remain unspoken, Blaquart was quoted as saying by Mediapart. Blaquart told RMC radio's website: I cannot not acknowledge these remarks. But they have to be put in their context. We acknowledged the fact that there were many players with dual nationality ... we had to control the management of these players who might be leaving us. There is nothing more to it.
Blanc, who played in the 1998 World Cup-winning team that was dubbed Black-Blanc-Beur (Blacks, Whites and Arabs) by French media, has often raised the issue of dual nationality players, but rejected the claim he was in favour of quotas based on race. On Friday he said: No such project has been revealed to me. It's a lie. You cannot have quotas in football. It does not exist. Football is made of diversity. It really bothers me because it's against my values. To me, this is totally false.
Last night Blanc said in a statement: I do not withdraw what I said yesterday. I admit that some remarks made during a work meeting, taken out of their context, may be misinterpreted and, as far as I am concerned, I apologise if I have hurt some feelings. But I, who am against any form of discrimination, do not stand being accused of racism or xenophobia.