By Gemma Mcdonald | May 6th, 2011 4 Comments
An investigative report by the Mediapart website revealed that numerous managers of the National Technical Directorate (DTN) and the French Football Federation (FFF) approved the “principle of discriminatory quotas” in November 2010. Their objective? To limit the number of players of West African and North African origin.
According to Mediapart, Laurent Blanc — manager of Les Bleus — would have played an active role in those discussions. It is alleged that Blanc highlighted the problem of players who spend three years in training in France and later go abroad to wear other teams’ jerseys. “Something like that cannot not create problems, it applies to the Latin Americans as well,” said Philippe Tournon, press officer of the national team.
At the heart of the problem, the report claims, is growing dissatisfaction among French managers, coaches, and administrators about players who are trained in France, develop into potential national team stars, and who then instead choose — for whatever reason — to represent another country thanks to their double citizenship. “The fact is, there is a large presence of bi-national players at the junior level,” said Fernand Duchaussoy, FFF President, “and some of them later do not want to be part of the national French team.” FIFA rules allow a player with double citizenship to play for a junior national team in one country and still go on to play for another country’s senior national team.
In response to the uproar that followed these revelations, Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno suspended FFF technical director Francois Blaquart, the author of a “quota chart” published on Thursday (May 5) by Mediapart. The explosive issue of racial quotas in French football is embedded in wider debates about immigration, race, and national identity in contemporary France. As Laurent Dubois puts it in Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France, “When a team takes to the field, the fans say, ‘They are us, and we are them.’ But sometimes that can also force a question: ‘Who are they? And who are we?'”