Race Crisis in France Over Claims of Quotas For Ethnic Players

Claims that French soccer officials have created quotas on how many black and Arab players can play in youth training programs, as well as in the national French soccer team, have led to a crisis about race in France. After these reports first surfaced on the website Mediapart, the French soccer federation has opened an investigation.

Says the Guardian about the controversy:

“For the top brass in French football, the issue is settled: there are too many blacks, too many Arabs, and not enough white players in French football,” the website [Mediapart] said.

According to Mediapart, one of the most senior football federation figures wanted to set a cap of 30% on players of certain origins, but insisted at a meeting the quota should be kept quiet. At another meeting, the French national team coach Laurent Blanc allegedly backed changing youth talent selection criteria to favour players with “our culture, our history”. Sources claimed Blanc cited current world champions Spain, saying: “The Spanish, they say: ‘We don’t have a problem. We have no blacks.’”

The French government has sought clarification from the soccer federation, which denies setting quotas. But the claims have unearthed a raw nerve about race and culture in France, at a time when, according to polls, the leader of France’s far-right National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, would beat French president Nicolas Sarkozy if the presidential election were held now.

Says the Guardian about an earlier scandal over soccer and the race of the players in France:

The issue hit a raw nerve in France in 1998, where their World Cup victory by a multicultural team led by Zinedine Zidane was hailed as “black, blanc, beur”, and was said to symbolise a new beginning for a mixed nation, but it mainly gave way to great unease and bickering over the racial profile of “Les Bleus”. Not only did the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen [the father of Marine Le Pen] complain of too many black people in the team, a leading Socialist regional head, the late Georges Frêche, was expelled from his party in 2007 for making the same observation.

Crucially, the French team’s mutiny at the World Cup last summer was privately blamed by some on black or Muslim players, including the French convert to Islam, Franck Ribéry. Speculation was that the team had fragmented over the lack of the football team’s “national identity”.

When Blanc first became coach of the French national team last summer, one of the first changes he made was to stop the team policy of eating only halal meat, a sign of cultural insensitivity towards some of his own players.

In France, counting people according to race or ethnic origin, “even for census purposes or statistics research,” is banned. Henri Guaino, Nicolas Sarkozy’s special advisor, says that he is “viscerally opposed to any form of quota” and that “setting quotas would be the end of the republic.”


Photo of a match between France and Brazil taken on February 9, 2011, in Paris by americanistadechiapas


Myriam G.
Myriam G6 years ago

Dear Salome Waters,
Comparing France and Québec is like comparing England and the United States.
I'm a born and raised Black Québecoise, lived there all my life, and I rarely encoutered the "belief in the Old Boys' Club, that Ethnic is a threat against the purity of the French" you're talking about. Yes, Québecois are adamant about protecting French, our language, but it doesn't have anything to do with ethnicity! We're trying to protect "le fait français en Amérique", not keep a mostly-White society.
The tax breaks you're talking about is for EVERY citizen who has baby, not just French-speaking Whites. It is there to help people with babies and young chidren, it's not a White supremacist measure, like you're making it sound.

Carolyn L.
Carolyn L6 years ago

Well, that's payback for colonialzation, exploitation, and de-stablization of black and brown countries. Perhaps, if the French would invest more in the human development and intra-structure of their former colonies, these "second class citizens"
would go home and be able to live a good life there!
Haiti deserves repayment with interest for the billion dollars it was forced to pay in reparations to France until 1943.

Alex H.
Alex H6 years ago

Sorry everyone,but I actually have a huge admiration for the French who seem to be the only country in the world,who have the guts and courage to try and protect their own ethnicity!The French do things in a certain French way,they are big on women's rights,NO BURQAS!!!Their original ethnicity is Christian,mostly white and they love their wine!Being inundated with a culture that shuns alcohol and subjugates women would indeed be ringing major alarm bells in France.I just hope that they haven't left it too late to corral the millions of fundamentalists that are there now!Go ethnicity protectionists!!

Rodney Paige
Rodney Paige6 years ago

When does it ever end, and we (humans) finally GET IT!!!!
Race~ What's that anyway?..........

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

La haine! Chauvinism based on what? Horrible trait, lucky not all French are like this!

Salome Waters
Salome Waters6 years ago

Both in France and in French Canada, there is an ingrained belief in the Old Boys' Club, that Ethnic is a threat against the purity of the French.

In Canada the Quebec French-Canadians are encouraged to have babies with a tax break or baby bonus - I forget which.

But inn France, they have retreated into their "collaboration with Nazi" behavior.

It is repulsive.

ruth a.
ruth a6 years ago

This is not surprising when seen along side the banning of the burka.

James Morley
James Morley6 years ago

Tamara H. What American words? I want you to leave MY language alone! By the way, somewhere there is an American Academy which approves, or disapproves of words.
If you lived in France. dear readers, you would soon learn of Frenglish, and words such as 'weekend' are common. Surely the French should be permitted to maintain their beautiful language, as dictated by the Acadamie Francaise.
The Guardian is a very good newspaper, yet occasionally gets carried away. If the number of youth to be accomodated for training is limited, which surely it must be, then the French have the prerogative of limiting to whomsoever, so as to improve their national team.

Tamara H.
Tamara H6 years ago

It is consistent with a country that zealously guards it's native language, banning the use of any American words.

Barbara S.

What a crock. What ever happened to respect for religion and talent?