French prosecutors investigate allegations of racial discrimination at PSG

French prosecutors on Monday opened an investigation into alleged racial discrimination at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after a news website reported the club’s scouts had listed the ethnic origins of young recruits.

The alleged practice at the reigning French champions was first revealed by investigative website Mediapart. The Qatar-owned club has already conducted an internal investigation and found “no proven case of discrimination”.

Mediapart, citing information from Football Leaks documents, said that between 2013 and this year, PSG‘s scouting department filled in recruitment forms on potential youth signings that included a section on ethnicity.

The section offered four options: “Français” (French), “Maghrebin” (North African), “Antillais” (West Indian), and “Afrique noire” (Black African).

Documenting information on racial or ethnic origins is illegal in France.

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu condemned the practice and said she was “shocked” at the revelations while the French Human Rights League, an anti-discrimination group, filed a legal complaint citing discrimination and racial profiling.

Mediapart, part of the European Investigative Collaborations consortium which has studied the Football Leaks documents, said the controversy “blew up internally” in March 2014.

That was in relation to the case of a 13-year-old player called Yann Gboho, who caught the eye of scouts while playing for FC Rouen in northern France.

But despite his talent and potential, he was overlooked by the club after he was racially profiled as West Indian.

The teenager, who is now a French youth international, was actually born in the Ivory Coast and not the West Indies. He eventually signed for another Ligue 1 club, Rennes.

‘Personal initiative’

PSG said its own probe into the racial profile allegations had showed that the forms on which the information was requested were “the personal initiative” of the head of its scouting network outside the capital.

The club’s internal report concluded: “Despite their existence, there was no process of discrimination at the level of scouting, evaluating or recruiting of young players.”

The scandal is the latest blow to the reputation of PSG, whose ultra fans have been punished in the past for racism.

The club is currently being investigated amid allegations it flaunted UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.

A match-fixing probe has also been launched following the club’s October Champions League tie against Red Star Belgrade.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2018-11-19

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