Vieira calls France quota 'scandalous'
World Cup winner Patrick Vieira has declared himself shocked at reports France boss Laurent Blanc and other coaches were seeking to introduce quotas limiting the presence of ethnic minority players in the national set-up.
French website Mediapart alleged last week that plans were made at a meeting last November - with Blanc present along with French Football Federation technical director Francois Blaquart, Under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts and Under-20 coach Francis Smerecki - to restrict the numbers of black players and those of north African origin entering national training centres and academies at the age of 12.
Blanc strongly denied the allegation at a press conference last week. "This project does not exist," he said. "All that, for me, is false."
However, Blaquart was suspended from his post on Saturday, pending the outcome of investigations by the FFF which began earlier this week.
Manchester City midfielder Vieira told Le Monde: "This story is scandalous. I'm shocked. I would never have imagined that the football chiefs in our country could have such conversations about the France team in the body of the federation. Never.
"I know Laurent Blanc. I've always had a good relationship with him. I don't believe he's racist, but I'm surprised as to the degree of his comments.
"When I read that he has said, 'The Spaniards, they don't have a problem because they don't have any blacks' or 'What is there that is big, strong, powerful? The blacks', it's scandalous! These are serious comments.
"People can tell me what they want, but no-one was trapped during this meeting. No-one forced anyone to say these comments and still they said them. It's a fact, that's shocking."
Vieira, who was born in Senegal and moved to France as a boy, also questioned the decision to single out Blaquart, who also denies any wrongdoing, for a suspension.
"It's difficult to suspend just one person when others had the same type of discussion," he said. "It would have been more logical to suspend everyone who, like him, said the same things.
"It's not up to me to say who should go, but I would not have been able to understand how these directors, who were at the meeting, could stay in their jobs.
"If these people stay, then that's the door open to all discriminations. If football really wants to fight against this scourge, if the FFF want to show that they have the values of the Republic, then there are strong decisions that must be made.
"They shouldn't forget that they are the elite of football. It's they who will design the French football of tomorrow. It's they who are supposed to defend community harmony."