'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)
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