Blanc cleared in race row

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PARIS, France, May 10 – France coach Laurent Blanc was on Tuesday cleared of racial discrimination by French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno in the row over talks concerning the introduction of quotas for dual nationality players.

"There is nothing to suggest that Laurent Blanc in any way gave his support to disciminatory actions," Jouanno told a press conference.

Blanc appeared before a joint hearing of the French Football Federation (FFF) and the Sports Ministry on Monday.

The two-pronged inquiry was launched after the Mediapart website released a transcript of a meeting last November in which Blanc and French officials discussed introducing quotas on the number of dual-nationality players at youth training centres.

A number of players have come through French academies in recent years, and represented France at youth level, only to switch allegiances to the senior sides of different countries.

"The means of limiting dual-nationals was in effect debated," Jouanno continued.

"The subject was brought up in an awkard and uncalled for manner. It was alluded to in a manner which bordered on racist but there was no project to establish quotas."

Jouanno said that there was no evidence to suggest that the 2001 law against racial discrimation had been broken.

"There is no need to take legal action," she said.

"Laurent Blanc took part in this type of meeting for the first time. He was neither the organiser nor the pilot. The hearings show that he came in on the debate and that he had no project or fixed opinion."

She also paid tribute to Blanc who took over from Raymond Domenech after the fiasco of France’s 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa when the team went on a training ground strike.

"He’s (Blanc) striving to put values back into the heart of the game," said Jouanno.

However, the minister said the FFF’s Federal Council would have to decide whether suspended National Technical Director (DNT) Francois Blaquart could continue in his role.

Blaquart could pay heavily for his comment "we can think about a kind of quota without saying it" during the November meeting.

"I’m not here to make heads roll at any price," said Jouanno.

"Nothing can lead one to think that a racist philosophy or discrimination is sustained by the FFF, but the DTN’s words are regrettable. He should lead by example in debates," added Jouanno.

The report has caused huge controversy and created ruptures among the multi-racial France team that won the World Cup in 1998.

Several members of France’s 1998 squad have spoken out about the affair including Zinedine Zidane, who voiced his support for Blanc, along with Christophe Dugarry, Marcel Desailly, Bixente Lizarazu and World Cup winning coach Aime Jacquet.

Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira have both strongly criticised Blanc.

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