France coach Blanc cleared in race row

France coach Laurent Blanc was on Tuesday cleared of any wrongdoing by France Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno in the row over talks concerning the introduction of quotas for dual nationality players.

Jouanno said that there was no evidence that the 2001 law against discrimination had been broken.

“There is nothing to suggest that Laurent Blanc in any way gave his support to discriminatory actions,” Jouanno told a press conference.

“The means of limiting dual-nationals was in effect debated. The subject was brought up in an awkward and uncalled for manner. It was alluded to in a manner which bordered on racist but there was no project to establish quotas.”

Blanc appeared before a joint hearing of the French Football Federation (FFF) and the sports ministry on Monday.

The two-pronged inquiry was launched after the Mediapart website released a transcript of a meeting last November in which Blanc and French officials allegedly discussed introducing quotas on the number of dual-nationality players at youth training centres.

A number of players have come through French academies in recent years, and represented France at youth level, only to switch allegiances to the senior sides of different countries.

The minister continued: “Laurent Blanc took part in this type of meeting for the first time. He was neither the organiser nor the pilot. The hearings show that he came in on the debate and that he had no project or fixed opinion.”

“There is no need to take legal action.”

The minister also paid tribute to Blanc who took over from Raymond Domenech after the fiasco of France’s 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa when the team went on a training ground strike.

“He’s [Blanc] striving to put values back into the heart of the game,” added Jouanno. — AFP

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