Patrick Vieira, a member of France’s 1998 World Cup-winning soccer squad, said his former teammate Laurent Blanc should resign as French coach after revelations of discussions to impose quotas on players with foreign roots.
“It’s hard to see how those people can stay in their positions,” Vieira, who was born in Senegal but played 107 times for France between 1997 and 2009, and was captain 21 times, said in an interview in Le Monde.
The French Football Federation says that next week it will release the results of an internal investigation after Internet site Mediapart released a recording of a meeting where Blanc and others discussed ways to have fewer players with foreign roots in France’s youth-training programs.
Francois Blaquart, the FFF’s national technical director, was one of the people secretly recorded during a discussion last November, and has been suspended pending the probe.
Several players, after being trained in the FFF’s youth set-up, have recently chosen to represent countries where their parents were born, such as Morocco, Poland, or Algeria. In the recordings, Blanc also complains that the predominance of black players in France has led to an overly physical style of play.
“That some terms, used during a candid work meeting about a sensitive subject, and taken out of their context, could be considered ambiguous, I certainly accept,” Blanc said in a statement April 30. “If I have hurt anyone, I apologize. But I don’t support being accused of racism and xenophobia, when I am against all forms of discrimination.”
He said there was never any question of limiting the number of Arab or African players, “but to tackle the heavy and difficult question of players with double nationality.”
The FFF has said it won’t comment further until the investigation is complete.
“Those are very serious remarks,” Vieira said. “No one was trapped in that conversation. No one was forced into saying those things, and yet they did. It’s shocking.”
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