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By ESPN Staff
Jul 12, 2007

French league approves 'old' Lens coach Roux

PARIS, July 12 (Reuters) - Guy Roux has won a battle against the French Professional Soccer League (LFP) who ruled he was too old at the age of 68 to coach Ligue 1 club Racing Lens.

The LFP said on Thursday its legal committee, which had rejected Roux's contract with Lens because he was over the age limit of 65 set by the LFP charter, had been overruled by the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF).

'The majority of the members of the executive committee have accepted the conciliatory proposal of the CNOSF which recommended the ratification of Guy Roux's contract with Racing Lens as an exceptional measure,' the League said.

The affair attracted the attention of French President Nicolas Sarkozy who criticised the LFP's ruling last month.

'The President finds this decision regrettable', the spokesman of the new French head of state told reporters.

'The President believes it is the rule that is old, not Guy Roux.'

French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde immediately joined the debate, turning Roux into a symbol of the government policy of persuading people to work longer.

'I think it's stupid to tell someone good and competent you can't work because you're too old,' she said.

'I think these age limits ... we should think about eliminating them. If Guy Roux is good, and I think he is a great coach, he must be able to coach.'

Roux spent 24 years as head coach of Auxerre during a career that in all spanned 53 years with the Burgundy side first as a player then as an administrator before announcing his retirement in June 2005 to work as television consultant.

By that time he had transformed the club from a provincial amateur side into a powerhouse of French soccer and had become one of the most colourful characters in French soccer.

With him in charge, Auxerre won the French title in 1996, lifted the French Cup four times and embarked on 14 campaigns in Europe.