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Jun 18, 2013

Louvel backed in 'race quota' row

The French Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) has decided to maintain beleaguered Jean-Pierre Louvel at its head despite the Le Havre president being caught up in a 'race quota' controversy and having been handed a six-month suspension.

Laurent Blanc's two-year tenure of the French national side was tarnished by revelations in 2011 that the former international defender had declared himself favourable to the idea of limiting players with dual-nationality in youth academies during a meeting at the French Football Federation (FFF) in late 2010.

Comments by Louvel, 62, saw the sensitive issue resurface when they appeared in a book published earlier this year, and the Mediapart website then published Louvel's claim that if you have a majority of African players in a squad, "the social life of the club is not the same. There are, for example, players who come from dominant tribes and - consequently - it's those ones who decide and not others".

In addition, Louvel was banned for six months only last week by the FFF's doping commission following incidents during a doping control after a second division game between Le Havre and their Normandy neighbours Caen on April 8.

Despite the suspension meaning Louvel cannot now represent his club nor the UCPF before the FFF or the French Football League (LFP), the UCPF Executive Committee, which met on Monday evening in Paris, backed him to remain in the post he has occupied since 2008.

"He has everyone's confidence," Saint-Etienne supremo Bernard Caiazzo told L'Equipe. "At least 80% of the clubs are behind him. He's one of the best presidents the UCPF has had. He always defends the general interest."

Lille counterpart, Michel Seydoux, said he believed Louvel was not racist, and that the UCPF remained firmly behind their president.

"It seems strange to me when you know Mr Louvel, and I'm surprised," Seydoux admitted in regard to Louvel's comments. "Knowing him, I don't think he was thinking in a racist way. He explained to us that it was merely a comment made to a journalist in a conversation about anything and everything.

"They've been badly interpreted. I'm not Mr Louvel's lawyer, but I believe in the presumption of innocence. The UCPF is strong. It can take a clap of thunder. There was not the least motion of defiance."