FFF turned deaf ear to French football race quota whistleblower

French Football Federation (FFF) technical advisor Mohamed Belkacemi (photo) has said he was the person who recorded a November 2010 meeting of the federation's National Technical Board in which a plan to introduce ethnic quotas at the federation's football training academies was detailed, as exclusively revealed by Mediapart last week. While FFF chiefs have expressed surprise at the revelations, now the subject of separate internal and ministerial enquiries, Mediapart has now learnt that Belkacemi last autumn alerted a senior FFF official about the plan by handing him a copy of the recording just days after the meeting.

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French Football Federation (FFF) technical advisor Mohamed Belkacemi has this week said he was the person who recorded a November 2010 meeting of the federation's National Technical Board (DTN) in which a plan to introduce ethnic quotas at the federation's football training academies was detailed. The plan was exclusively revealed last week in a Mediapart investigation that reproduced a verbatim account of that meeting, along with other DTN discussions about ethnic selection.

While FFF chiefs have expressed surprise at the revelations, now the subject of separate internal and ministerial enquiries, Mediapart has now learnt that Belkacemi last autumn alerted a senior FFF official about the plan by handing him a copy of the recording just days after the meeting.

Mediapart has learnt from several sources that Mohamed Belkacemi gave a copy of the recording to André Prévosto, director of the amateur football department at the French Football Federation (FFF) and who was at the time (November) the assistant director-general of the FFF, working closely with the Federation's president Fernand Duchaussoy.

Mediapart has repeatedly tried to contact Prévosto, but our calls were not returned.

M. Belkacemi © (dr.) M. Belkacemi © (dr.)

Belkacemi is a civil servant employed by the French sports ministry, whose working mission for the past three years has been that of technical advisor for the FFF's National Technical Board, the DTN, in charge of its "neighbourhood football" programme1, which promotes the sport and its ethics within local communities.

Questioned on Tuesday by the FFF commission led by Member of Parliament Patrick Braouezec and set up to investigate the ethnic quota plan revealed by Mediapart, he stated he had made the recording of the November 8th meeting. Mediapart understands that Belkacemi insisted he did not pass the recording to any media organization, but that he had wanted to alert others within the FFF of the existence of the quota plan.

Contacted by Mediapart, FFF communications director Pierre-Jean Golven refused to comment on the suggestion that Belkacemi had alerted the federation to the plan in November. "I take note of the information you have shared with us," he told Mediapart. "We will add no more than what we have already indicated through press statements. A commission has begun its work and we await its conclusions. We can neither confirm or deny [anything]."

FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy also refused to comment, and released a statement that he wanted "to allow the commission to work in serenely".

Similarly, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Youth and Sport said Wednesday: "We have learnt this from you, like the rest [the quota plan]. We do not wish to respond to your information."

Earlier Wednesday, Sports minister Chantal Jouanno, interviewed on French national radio station France Inter, said: "The enquiry must get to the end, to know why this recording was made, why it was made known only six months afterwards, when the [French Football] federation was in the prime of a pre-election period, why it was not thought necessary to approach the ministry to reveal the illegality of the methods."

Olivier Dord, a professor of public law at Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense University, said Belkacemi had committed no professional fault by not first informing the ministry, and had had acted correctly and properly by alerting the FFF. "When a civil servant leaves his service and original department to work in a different post alongside a person who exercises a public service mission, he is no longer under obligation to inform his original department," he explained. "According to the public service statutes, the obligation is towards the public person who latterly employs the civil servant."

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1: The programme title in French is 'football dans les quartiers'.

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Mediapart wishes to thank football website Visiofoot for providing the video of interviews with French football officials after Mohamed Belkacemi was made a Knight of the National Order of Merit in 2009 (see page 2 of this article).