Leading French players have criticised the government’s reaction to the riots which have spread through France over the past fortnight.

“I grew up in the suburbs and I feel very close to these youths,” said defender Lilian Thuram.

“The situation makes me sick. Nobody is asking the right questions. Nobody is trying to look at the real problems,” he added.

“The main issue is (the youths’) insecurity but no one is talking about the best way to give people a job. People are talking about insecurity rather than unemployment.”

The protests have spread from Paris’s outer suburbs to towns across the whole of France. Hundreds of cars have been destroyed as rioters have gone on the rampage, prompting the the French government to impose curfews in certain cities.

Youths threw Molotov cocktails at police and torched cars in several French cities and towns in a 13th night of violence, ignoring the government’s imposition of rarely used emergency laws.

Police said on Wednesday that 573 vehicles were set ablaze across the country overnight, down from 860 the night before. One official said the incidents were sporadic. The number of people detained rose to 204 from 151 the night before.

“They are trying to convince the public that these people are nothing but rioters… which is not the truth,” Thuram added.

“Three years ago, there was an election here and insecurity decided the vote. Now another election is looming and insecurity is the number one issue again,” he said.

“Actually, they are trying to find a scapegoat as they are unable to find a solution to the job problems,” he said.

Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda said the current situation had been coming for a while.

“People in the suburbs are desperate and it was always going to come to this,” he said.

“We have reached breaking point,” said Malouda’s team mate Eric Abidal. “This situation is anything but new and a solution is still to be found.”

“When I was there, there was a supermarket but the guys there refused to hire people from our neighbourhood,” added Abidal. “I can understand that people are fed up to see things like that.”

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