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France coach to keep silent ahead of hearing on race scandal

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-07

The French Football Federation said on Saturday that national coach Laurent Blanc will not make any public statements ahead of a hearing investigating his role in a race row, after earlier denying reports Blanc had offered to resign over the scandal.

AFP - France coach Laurent Blanc will not speak to the media until after his hearing over the controversial French football race row, the French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed on Saturday.

The FFF, who earlier denied reports that Blanc had offered to resign, said the embattled coach would be keeping his own counsel until the outcome of a two-pronged inquiry by the FFF and the French sports ministry.

"Out of respect for the commissions that are preparing to interview him, Laurent Blanc will not be making any statement before the hearings and the publications of their findings," Philippe Tournon, press officer for the French national team, told AFP.

"He will express himself fully afterwards."

Blanc is being investigated after the Mediapart website released a transcript of a meeting last November in which French officials allegedly discussed introducing quotas on the number of dual-nationality players at youth training centres.

Blanc left Merano in northern Italy, where he had been on a scheduled holiday, in the early afternoon on Saturday, according to the hotel where he had been staying.

The national coach has until Monday morning to appear before the French sports ministry's panel and the committee leading the FFF's internal investigation.

Laurent Davenas, one of two people on the FFF's committee, told AFP on Saturday: "Until further notice, his (Blanc's) hearing will be in Paris, probably over the weekend."

French sports minister Chantal Jouanno will present the findings of her department's investigation on Monday afternoon.

The outcome of the FFF inquiry is not expected to be known until Thursday.

Earlier, the FFF denied a report in the regional Ouest-France newspaper claiming that Blanc had resigned from his post.

"I've spoken to him on the telephone," Tournon told AFP.

"We spoke about him coming to Paris for the hearing and about what could happen afterwards. But at no time did we speak about that (resignation)."

A spokesman for the FFF added: "The French Football Federation formally denies any report that claims Laurent Blanc has tendered his resignation."

The Mediapart report has caused huge controversy in France this week, causing ruptures among the multi-racial France team that won the World Cup in 1998.

Francois Blaquart, who has been suspended as national technical director, said on Friday it was possible that Blanc may not have heard him use the word 'quota' and was therefore potentially unaware that the issue had been discussed at the meeting last November.

"I could understand, as it (the word quota) was only used once -- in an extremely clumsy manner, I admit -- if Laurent didn't hear it," said Blaquart.

"It was a very, very passionate discussion that only lasted 20 minutes during a meeting of three hours."

He added: "I'm not proud and I even feel great shame to see these terms come out and get attached to my name, to Laurent's name and to the names of the others involved, of course."

Date created : 2011-05-07


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