French Football Association investigates 'race quota'

Laurent Blanc
Blanc has denied the accusations

An investigation has begun into claims France boss Laurent Blanc and other coaches discussed informal quotas limiting black and Arab youth players' involvement in the national set-up.

The French Football Federation will interview Blanc and three other staff on the claims later this week.

Technical director Francois Blaquart, one of those to be questioned, is suspended pending the probe's outcome.

Blaquart and Blanc have said their comments were taken out of context.

Investigative website Mediapart claimed that Blaquart proposed secretly limiting the proportion of black and north African players to 30% at certain regional youth training centres, including the renowned Clairefontaine facility.

Blanc is alleged to have agreed with the plan in order to promote players with "our culture, our history".

The FFF have established a special commission to examine the claims after being urged to act by sports minister Chantal Jouanno.

It is led by Patrick Braouezec, who was at the head of the inquiry into the French team's refusal to train at 2010 World Cup, and Laurent Davenas, the president of the FFF's ethics council.

Their conclusions are expected to be discussed at an FFF federal council meeting next week.

In addition to Blaquart and Blanc, under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts and under-20 coach Francis Smerecki are to face the commission after also featuring in Mediapart's transcript of a conversation in November.

The quartet are reported to be discussing possible ways to limit the number of players with dual nationalities playing for France youth teams before deciding to represent their country of origin as adults.

An outraged Smerecki is quoted as speaking out angrily against the proposal, describing it as "discriminatory".

The story has provoked reaction amongst ex-France internationals.

Former defender Lilian Thuram, a team-mate of Blanc's in the 1998 World Cup winning team, has spoken of his shock at the idea of quotas, while Basile Boli said it was "impossible" to support Blanc.