French football chiefs back Blanc in race row

AFP, Thursday 12 May 2011

France coach Laurent Blanc on Thursday received the backing of the French Football Federation's (FFF) Federal Council following their probe into his role in alleged plans to introduce quotas for dual nationality players


The decision comes two days after Blanc was also cleared of any wrongdoing by French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno.

The two-pronged FFF and Sports Ministry inquiry was launched after the Mediapart website released a transcript of a meeting last November in which Blanc and French officials discussed introducing quotas on dual-nationality players at youth training centres.

While backing Blanc, the Federal Council said they would however be examining whether to open "disciplinary procedures" in the case but without naming names in order to respect the rights of their employees.

FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy said: "The Federal Council is studying the opening of disciplinary procedures in respect of the labour laws.

"Consequently and to respect the right of employees, the Federal Council will not be able to communicate any information."

Apart from Blanc, who will not be the subject of the disciplinary procedures, only one other name was mentioned before the press after the long drawn out Federal Council meeting on Thursday - Mohammed Belkacemi, the national technical advisor for neighbourhood football - who made the secret tape of the November meeting.

The Federal Council said however that there "would not be any sanctions against Mohammed Belkacemi because of his statute as a senior civil servant" whose role also comes under the auspices of the Sports Ministry.

Suspended National Technical Director (DNT) Francois Blaquart could also be concerned as his comment "we can think about a kind of quota without saying it" during the November meeting was described as "regrettable" by Jouanno.

Other officials who could be investigated are FFF's deputy director general Andre Prevosto, who received the recording from Belkacemi, without doing anything, and France's under-21s coach Erick Mombaerts for his active role in the recorded conversation.

Meanwhile, a French anti-discrimination organisation on Thursday launched a complaint over the handling of the dual-nationality quota row by the FFF and the French sports ministry.

The Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) claimed that the clearing of Blanc demonstrated that the two bodies wanted "to bury the case".

"Today we are taking a serious decision: in the case of the French Football Federation, we are making a complaint," wrote CRAN spokesperson Louis-Georges Tin in Thursday's edition of Le Monde.

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