FRENCH PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy is prepared to intervene in a French football controversy which could see French manager Laurent Blanc resign his post.
The Guardian quotes French newspaper Ouest-France today as saying that Blanc is supposedly poised to resign tomorrow after he was secretly taped discussing possible quotas for the number of black and Arab youth players on the national team. It adds that Sarkozy is prepared to ask him to reconsider.
One of French football’s most senior officials, Francois Blaquart, was suspended after the story emerged a week ago. Inquiries into the allegations were launched last week and Blanc had been given until tomorrow to respond to the claims.
Blanc had earlier apologised for his comments, which were published by Mediapart, and claimed they were taken out of context.
Reuters reports that former French star Zinedine Zidane has urged Blanc to stay on and not to resign over the controversy, saying he is “certainly not a racist”. Zinedane said the idea of Blanc discriminating against “kids with dual nationality is absurd to me”.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended Blanc, the Telegraph reports, saying: “I believe the racism issue that has been raised is wrong because France is not a racist country. But the least you can say is that the discussion at the FFF [Fédération Française de Football] was clumsy and should not have existed at all.”
Yesterday, the press officer for the French national team, Philippe Tournon, told the AFP that Blanc would not be making any statement until he had met with the two investigating panels. Tournon said he had spoken to Blanc by telephone and “at no time did we speak about [resigning]“.