Blanc future cloudy in racial quota scandal

Laurent Blanc’s future is uncertain after newspaper reports claimed the maligned France coach had tendered his resignation.Ouest-France, France’s highest-circulating daily, reported the 1998 World Cup-winning defender had handed in his resignation to the French Football Federation amid growing public pressure over the racial quota scandal which has engulfed French football.

The FFF, who have opened an inquiry following allegations of applying racial quotas in the national training centres, however have denied such speculation.

The report also claimed that France President Nicholas Sarkozy was planning to veto any resignation plans Blanc may have had.

The Ligue 1-winning coach initially denied partaking in such discussions over the implementation of a racial quota – designed to limit the number of players of African and Maghreb descent over concerns of physicality and the issue of dual nationality.

“I admit some remarks made during a work meeting, taken out of their context, may be misinterpreted. As far as I am concerned, I apologise if I have hurt some feelings. But I, who am against any form of discrimination, do not accept being accused of racism or xenophobia,” he wrote in a statement.

Blanc has come in for criticism from former national team-mates, Lilian Thuram – France’s highest-capped player – and Patrick Vieira.

Thuram, while doubting Blanc harboured racist attitudes, did question the lack of wisdom with which the France boss made the comments regarding black players, while Vieira expressed shock at the idea FFF could even entertain such options.

“I am shocked. I would never have believed that the directors of football in our country could conduct such discussions about the national team in the heart of the federation offices. Never!” Vieira told Le Monde.

“I know Laurent Blanc. I’ve always got on well with him. I do not believe that he is a racist but I am surprised by the tone of his comments (about ‘blacks’). People can say what they like but no-one seems to have raised any objection during the meeting. (And) that’s shocking to me.”

Others – namely former Les Bleus captain Didier Deschamps, France captain Alou Diarra, former international Christophe Dugarry and French playmaker Franck Ribery – have thrown their support behind Blanc.

The joint FFF inquiry is expected to hand down a verdict on the futures of Blanc, FFF technical director Francois Blaquart and two other staff members on Monday.

The issue of identity and religion in France has been deeply politicised in recent years, and the outbreak of ‘QuotaGate’ has ensured the FFF and Blanc would be garner much publicity.