France coach Laurent Blanc has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Sports Ministry’s investigation into the racism row that has shaken French football.
Blanc faced a French government investigation into his involvement in an alleged move to limit the number of black and North African footballers entering national training centres and academies.
Blanc, who replaced Raymond Domenech as head of the national team last year, was present at a meeting when quotas were discussed. But he took no part in these discussions which involved technical director Francois Blaquart, who has been suspended, Under-21 coach Erick Mombaerts and Under-20 coach Francis Smerecki.
Sports minister Chantal Jouanno claimed that the alleged conversation last November was “clumsy and clearly uncalled-for” but broke no rules.
”Laurent Blanc was present for the first time at this type of meeting. He wasn’t organiser or pilot. He discovered the debate about quotas,” Jouanno said.
”He offered no opinions, unlike other participants at the meeting who were prepared for this debate. There is nothing to suggest that Laurent Blanc condones discriminatory guidelines.”
Because the idea was subsequently dismissed and quotas were never implemented, Jouanno claimed there was no reason to start legal proceedings. ”There is no need to go to court,” she said.
“There is no element, no accumulation of evidence that leads us to believe there was discrimination. There are not enough grounds to refer it to the prosecutor’s office.”
The coach has been criticised by former team mates from the 1998 World Cup-winning France side but others such as Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane have backed Blanc to stay on.
Blaquart was suspended from his post at the end of April, and Jouanno stressed it was for the FFF to decide whether he should be reinstated.
The FFF will present its investigation’s findings at a news conference later on Tuesday.