The French Football Federation’s plan to apply ethnic quotas on young players

Several members of the French Football Federation’s National Technical Board, including the then- France national team coach Laurent Blanc, in 2010 secretly approved a quota selection process to reduce the number of young black players, and those of North African origin, entering the country’s youth training centres and which groom potential candidates for the national team. A recording of the meeting when the plan was discussed was revealed in an investigation by Mediapart.

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10.05.2011

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The meeting of November 8th 2010 (audio N° 7)

France national team coach Laurent Blanc declared himself in favour of a change in the selection criteria for youth talent as of the age of 12 to 13 years in order to favour those who he described as having "our culture, our history". Blanc cited the then world football champions Spain, saying: "I’m going to give you the example of the Spanish. They don’t have these problems [...] The Spanish, they told me ‘we don’t have a problem. Us, we don’t have any blacks’." (On tape: Francis Smerecki, Laurent Blanc)

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The meeting of November 8th 2010 (audio N° 6)

Francis Smerecki s’agace de la distinction entre les Français-Français et les autres. Francis Smerecki reprend: «Vous voulez garder lesquels? Les Blancs? Les moins bons?» Personne ne lui rétorque que la couleur de peau n’est pas l’objet du débat.
(Francis Smerecki, François Blaquart, un participant non identifié)

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The meeting of November 8th 2010 (audio N° 5)

Francis Smerecki takes up the defence of players with dual nationality who have receioved training in France’s national team academies and who later decide to play for another country. Laurent Blanc replies that all Black players, except those from the French West Indies, potentially pose such a problem. “Because all the blacks, if you take out the Antillais [from the French Caribbean], they are of African origin,” says Blanc. “So, African, they are going to be able to play in an African team. (On tape: Francis Smerecki, Laurent Blanc)

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The meeting of November 8th 2010 (audio N° 4)

Laurent Blanc says it is not a player’s skin colour that he is concerned with. “For me it’s not coloured people who pose a problem,” he argues. “It’s not coloured people, it’s not North Africans. Me, I have no problem with them. But the problem, it’s that those people must decide themselves and to try to let us help them to decide themselves. If there are only - and I’m speaking crudely - only blacks in the poles [youth training centres] and that those blacks regard themselves as French and want to play in the France team, that suits me fine. (On tape: Laurent Blanc)

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The meeting of November 8th 2010 (audio N° 3)

Laurent Blanc talks of the young French players targetted by the suggested quotas as being foreign. “We don’t want to eliminate foreigners, not at all, but to ensure that the centres for the Espoirs [18-21 year-olds who play in Under 20s and Under 21 national teams] or the DTN academies test with better defined criteria to be able to attract other people, because if we always have the same criteria, there will always be the same people,” he says. (On tape: Laurent Blanc)

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The meeting of November 8th 2010 (audio N° 2)

The French Football Federation’s national technical director, François Blaquart, sets out a plan to filter recruits to the Clairefontaine national training camp and centre west of Paris. “We need to have a project,” he says. “[…] That we be much more pertinent in the approach, including here the evaluation of a state of mind and so on. I would say we have the means to do it. With 12 year-olds we realized that it was more difficult than with 15 year-olds […] Ideally, in fact, it would be to say, but not officially; in any case we no longer take as many kids who are susceptible to ultimately changing [nationality].” Laurent Blanc adds: “Or you [make them] pass through different selection criteria. You just have to look at the training centres. Even the Paris centre. You always see the same people because they always meet the same criteria for selection.” François Blaquart then says: “We could trace, on a non-spoken basis, a sort of quota. But it must not be said. It stays as action only. There you are, we be careful. We have the lists, at some point in time. (On tape: François Blaquart, Laurent Blanc)

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Nouvelle traduction : Réunion du 8 novembre 2010 : audio n°1

Erick Mombaerts, France Espoirs (Under 21s) team coach proposes limiting those young players with dual nationality who could later choose to play for another national team than France. Laurent Blanc gives his agreement. “Do we get to grips with the problem and limit the number of kids who can change nationalities?” asks Mombaerts. “Yes? No? So, in such a case, we have to do it under the elbow [discreetly]. That’s to say, we have to do it...But do we have to do it? I think everyone must be involved here.What do you think Laurent?” Laurent Blanc replies: “I am completely favourable. Sincerely, it bothers me very much. What’s currently happening in football, it bothers me very much. In my opinion, we must try to eradicate it. And that has no racist connotation or anything else. When people wear the France national team shirt as of 16, 17,18, 19, 30 years old, U21s, and afterwards they go off to play in North African or African teams, that bothers me enormously. That needs, all the same, to be limited. I don’t say we’ll eradicate it, but limit it in those centres.” Mombaerts then asks: So it must be 30%? A third of the kids who can change [nationality]?” François Blaquart, France national technical director says: “Not even that.” (On tape : Erick Mombaerts, Laurent Blanc, François Blaquart)

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Document online since
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The FFF graph of numbers of players “susceptible” of opting for dual nationality

Members of the French Football Federation’s National Technical Board prepared a graph that identified in yellow those young football players in its national team training centres who were "susceptible at any time to play for another sporting nation" by obtaining dual nationality. Importantly, these include players, as young as 15 years-old, who hold French - and no other – citizenship, raising the question as to how the DTN decided they might opt for a second nationality.