News / Europe

French Football Federation Accused of Racism

Journalists film outside the French soccer federation headquarters in Paris, May 6, 2011
Journalists film outside the French soccer federation headquarters in Paris, May 6, 2011
Lisa Bryant

France's national soccer federation has been rocked by allegations of racism, with reports its top brass wanted to introduce quotas for ethnic-African and Arab players in its training academies. The results of two investigations into the matter are due out this week.

The allegations have been leveled by the online investigative publication Mediapart, which reported senior members of the French Football Federation wanted to limit the number of young soccer players of Arab and African descent in its training academies. Mediapart released an apparent transcript of a November meeting by French officials in which the quota idea was discussed.

The results of inquiries by the Football Federation and France's sports ministry are due out this week. French soccer team coach Laurent Blanc, who denies the accusations, was questioned and the technical director has been suspended.

The executive director of French anti-discrimination group SOS Racisme, Guilaume Aime, says he is not surprised by the allegations.

"We have seen quite a few cases and we have litigation against the French soccer federation on another case, which is that they have refused kids who cannot prove that their parents have lived five years regularly in France," said Aime.

Mediapart's claims have unleashed strong emotions in the French soccer world.  Former soccer star Zinnedine Zidane, the son of Algerian refugees, argues coach Blanc is no racist.  That sentiment was echoed by French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno, who is expected to announce the results of the ministry's probe on Tuesday.

In broadcast remarks, Joanno said she had never heard Blanc make a racist statement, and she pointed to the multi-racial composition of the French soccer team.

But another former French soccer star, Lilian Thuram from Guadeloupe, expressed concern.

Thuram told TF1 television he feared the allegations of discrimination within the soccer federation could be true. If so, it was very serious.

The allegations are a blow for a national soccer team that was once a symbol of a multi-racial and united France in 1998, when it won the World Cup.

The issue also comes at a particularly sensitive time in France, following controversial national debates over diversity and Muslims.  And a year before presidential elections, recent polls show surging support for the leader of the far-right National Front Party.

"We have had many political actions, which stigmatized huge parts of the French population, and soccer looks like society itself," says SOS Racism's Guillaume Aime.

But Aime believes the majority of French are very upset about the racism allegations in French soccer and, if they are proved true, will demand change.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs