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Blanc denies existence of racial quota

France coach Laurent Blanc has firmly rejected claims the French Football Federation (FFF) has introduced a secret quota to reduce the number of black and Arab players.

Mediapart claimed on its website that a secret meeting took place to introduce limits on the number of non-white players to be enrolled in the country's training academies.

The report read: "Some top officials at the French Football Federation's National Development Programme (DTN), including national team coach Laurent Blanc, secretly approved at the start of 2011 the principle of unofficial discriminatory quotas in training centres and schools around the country.

"For the top brass in French football, the issue is settled: there are too many blacks, too many Arabs and not enough white players in French football.

"According to internal sources at the FFF, who have been shocked by the proposals, instructions were sent to the different managers of training schools, notably the National French Institute at Clairefontaine.

"The figure of 30% was even evoked by the Technical Director during a DTN meeting on January 18, 2011."

However, Blanc insists he has no knowledge of any such project and that the only discrimination he is aware of relates to physical attributes such as size.

"It really bothers me because it's against my values," he said. "To me, this is totally false - there is no draft quota - and it's a lie to say that the coach of the France team participated, so I cannot tell you about something that does not exist.

"I have never heard mention of such a project. Since around 15 years the playing policy has been discriminatory for a certain number of players, [with] athletic and physical criteria being essential.

"Today, small players are penalised. That's discrimination. What upsets me the most is to add 'colour' to this. When one accuses me of this type of discrimination, that annoys me. Diversity exists, on the street as in football."

FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy added: "I heard about this on Thursday with a great deal of surprise. I was taken aback. I thought it was a joke in bad taste. These are terrible accusations."

Technical director Francois Blaquart said the only related issue the FFF had considered concerned those players who receive their football education in France before going on to represent other countries.

"Our only problem is to do with dual nationality," he said. "This involves players of all origins - it's got nothing to do with skin colour."

The country's sports minister, Chantal Jouanno, said she would liaise with the FFF president to ensure the necessary action is taken.

"Discrimination had no place in sport," she said. "I know that Fernand Duchaussoy will take all necessary measures without delay. I will obviously be in contact with him to closely monitor the response to this matter."

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