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An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

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Latest update : 2012-01-20

France's lost football talent

They could have been future French champions. But like many young footballers with dual nationality who were trained in France, Cheik and Mohamed have chosen to leave the country to play for their nationality of origin. How can these talented young players be persuaded to stay in France?

The idea behind this report was to understand how French football has fallen to such lows. In 1998, it was at the height of its fame - French had just won the World Cup and the myth of a multi-racial team was born. A united and mixed France was feted.

But in 2011, after the disastrous French performance at the 2010 World Cup, a scandal hit. An investigate website revealed that the French Football Federation had mulled the idea of introducing quotas…in order to limit the number of youngsters of dual nationality entering French football training colleges.

From that point on, a racial mindset took set: black footballers are tall, well-built and powerful; there are too many players with dual nationality in the training colleges.

When France wins, it’s a united country. When it loses, is it a divided country? Often, it is the “foreigners” who are the scapegoats.

I wanted to hear from footballers born in France who have chosen to play for other countries. I wanted to find out what damage this racial mindset had caused in the suburbs where these young men live.

By Rabah ZANOUN

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