Exclusive: French football chiefs' secret plan to whiten 'les Bleus'

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Youth team players 'checked for prayer mats'

Afrique du Sud, grève de l'équipe de France lors du Mondial. © (Reuters) Afrique du Sud, grève de l'équipe de France lors du Mondial. © (Reuters)

One of the first measures taken by Laurent Blanc when he became coach for Les Bleus last summer was to ban halal meat from the players' meals. He told French television at the time that out of respect for Muslims, there would be no pork either. However, the French team's meals do not usually contain pork, a meat that is said to be too fatty for top-level sportsmen.

Several former FFF officials have told Mediapart of an incident in 1997 when DTN officials ordered searches of bags belonging to players of Maghrebi origin in the national youth team (16-17-year-olds), to check they were not carrying prayer mats.

The following year, in 1998, the victory of France and the Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram generation at the World Cup tournament in Paris, which inspired the ‘blanc, black, beur' description to denote their racial mix, helped to briefly obscure cultural and racial differences.

But things have changed since, notably following the French team's rout last summer in South Africa. Mediapart has been told it is is not uncommon to hear DTN officials talk privately about Muslim players as Islamists or Saracens.

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Reporters' note: This article, the subject of an investigation led over several weeks, reveals grave evidence of discrimination towards the origins, beliefs and skin colour of persons that was organized or encouraged by the highest instances of the French football establishment. The first article of the French constitution stipulates that the French Republic "guarantees the equality before the law of all citizens without distinction of origin, race or religion." Mediapart has all necessary proof of the information published in this article.

UPDATE 11.30pm, Thursday April 28th: France coach Laurent Blanc, in a telephone contact late Thursday with Mediapart, refuted the information contained in this report, which we firmly maintain is accurate. Laurent Blanc, who Mediapart of course attempted - without success - to contact for a reply before publication, said late Thursday that he had no intention of launching legal action against our website because "it would be to give the site too much importance". On Friday April 29th French sports minister Chantal Jouanno announced she had openend an investigation into the matter and, referring to the information published in this article, invited the French Football Federation "to shed light on the allegations".