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

This article is open access. Information protects us. I subscribe

'Problems of a racial type have never been raised'

Asked by weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche in early April this year why only two coaches in France are black, Pierre Repellini, vice-president of Unecatef, the professional association representing French coaching staff, replied: "Is it a question of ability? Or is it too hard to get qualifications? Or perhaps they just don't care? It's hard to say."

Sources have told Mediapart how, at an official meeting on March 18th this year, DTN officials showed a series of photos depicting the composition of the 20 or so youth teams playing in the amateur Paris league, the 'division d'honneur'. The proportion of blacks and Arabs was, as is currently often the case, very high. The message, according to the sources, was clearly that this must change.

On April 27th, Mediapart contacted DTN head François Blaquart for a reply to the allegations, beginning with those concerning the DTN's approval of the principle of racial quotas in French football. "If you prove to me that this has been put in writing, that you have it, that it has been made available to you or that someone is a witness to what you say, I am prepared to hear your questions," he said.

"But in no case has this been discussed in an institutional way, or in an official way, or in writing, or in reports," he continued. " That's all. Now when people talk, I don't know, they can take percentages or they can talk about other things."

"In all discussions there are positions that can be considered as excessive, that is the point of any debate," Blaquart added. "But in no instance has any decision emerged from any such discussions."

Under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts told Mediapart "problems of a racial type have never been raised" at the DTN. "No, there is no question of quotas for the moment."

Asked about reports from several sources that he had said that not all "whites" have had their chance to play football in France, Mombaerts said: "Often that is the way nature is. They are often less mature and so inevitably we see them less and they emerge at a later stage."

Laurent Blanc was also contacted via the French national team's press attaché, Philippe Tournon, but did not reply to our requests for an interview (see update in Boîte Noir, bottom of page).

-------------------------

English version: Sue Landau and Graham Tearse

(Editing by Graham Tearse)

Si vous avez des informations à nous communiquer, vous pouvez nous contacter à l’adresse enquete@mediapart.fr. Si vous souhaitez adresser des documents en passant par une plateforme hautement sécurisée, vous pouvez vous connecter au site frenchleaks.fr.

No mobilization without confidence
No trust without truth
Support us

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".