Edwy Plenel on France’s racism row

Mediapart’s editor in chief, Edwy Plenel writes why the racism row is so damaging and the quota system abhorrent. Mediapart is the publication that exposed radical changes sought by the DTN in stealth with regards to training policy that could impose limits on young black players and players of North African origin seeking admission to the training academies.
Plenel exposes dual nationality concerns as smoke and mirrors for racial contagion and a populist hypernationalism. He quotes Francois Blaquart, the now suspended DTN chief.
“We could trace, on a non-spoken basis, a sort of quota,” he said then. “But it must not be said. It stays as action only. There you are, we be careful. We have the lists, at some point in time…”
The issue of dual nationality is a sticky one. The need to address it has been ostensibly sparked by French players of other European origin who have chosen to spurn France. In other words, these players have poisoned the well for a larger group of players who happen to be black or North African in origin and the existence of quotas could affect them disproportionately.
Laurent Blanc at first lied about the existence of the project and then was forced into a statement of contrition when he was exposed as being one of it’s chief architects. Many have sought to paint this as a necessary change in developing players with better technical skills and foregoing the earlier emphasis on speed and strength. Many cite Alou Diarra as an example why Blanc could not be racist.
Paul Doyle points out Blanc might have been clumsy rather than racist but there is no walking back the sin of resorting to racial stereotypes to reinforce his point. That is racism. This is not the outcome of a single meeting although it provides most of the talking points. Plenel talks about a series of meetings, events, and comments which provide proof that these were changes actively sought and fostered by Blanc and Eric Mombaerts, the U21 coach.
In the NFL it was that there could be no black quarterback because they were perceived to be lacking in vision and decision making skills. Till Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham showed the way. Now every other QB is black and like their white counterparts show a similar range of strengths and weakness’s.
In football, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Claude Makelele are players with established impeccable technical credentials.
In fact, when one watches Makelele in his Galacticos days, it is obvious why Real fell apart after he left. His was a job that Xabi Alonso, Lass Diarra, and Pepe could not accomplish at the Bernabeu last week. Vieira is celebrated for his strength but he was Cannavaro when it came to the craft of tackling. And Henry’s blinding speed augmented a clever and creative brain/hand to score a number of breath taking goals.
Those who desire to represent France and give off their best will do so despite the existence of quotas or the drum towards arbitrarily defined national values. Everyone in the Republic of France irrespective of origin, race or religion should be afforded the same chance in this self selecting process.

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