Paris St-Germain: Racial profiling claims investigated by French champions

Rex Christensen
November 9, 2018

"We have opened an internal investigation", the source told AFP, after the claims made by French investigative website Mediapart, who cited documents from the latest series of Football Leaks allegations.

A spokesman for PSG, however, said the club started a new investigation into these claims three weeks ago but disputed the suggestion that recording players' racial backgrounds was still happening this year.

"The club confirms that this profiling was put in place, but.they say that things were done in secret" and that "management was not aware".

If true, the instances could be deemed illegal as such social profiling is banned in France.

Responding to the claims, PSG said in a statement: "Paris Saint-Germain reaffirms its firm condemnation of all forms of discrimination, racism or ethnic monitoring".

PSG have said that between 2013 and 2018, their scouting department filled out evaluation forms on some young players, including stating ethnicity.

Mediapart has reported that up until this year, scouts were asked by PSG to mention the origin of potential young recruits according to four categories: "Francais" (French), "Maghrebin" (North African), "Antillais" (West Indian), and "Afrique noire" (Black African).

The controversy "blew up internally" in March 2014, said Mediapart, in relation to the case of a talented 13-year-old player called Yann Gboho, who caught the eye of scouts while he was playing for FC Rouen in the Normandy region of northern France.

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He reportedly added: "Instead of French, it should have said white, especially as all the players we recommended were French".

Marc Westerloppe, PSG's domestic recruitment chief, was quoted as saying during a meeting in 2014 that there were "too many West Indians and Africans in Paris" and that "it was a shame to be scouting the same profile of player that can already be found in Paris" before adding that such a policy was a "request from the leadership".

"There is a problem on the orientation of the club, a balance is needed on the mixing, too many West Indians and Africans around Paris", he said.

This caused an angry exchange with Pierre Reynaud, in charge of recruitment in the Paris region, who insisted: "It must not be a question of ethnicity but talent".

Westerloppe reportedly rejected the accusations against him as "false, malicious and stupid" after being summoned to a meeting following a complaint.

PSG confirmed that "these forms were introduced at the sole personal initiative of the head of this department" before detailing that an internal investigation was launched in October "to understand how such practices could have existed" and "decide on the necessary measures to be taken". "As the emergence of the club's young talents proves, scouting is decided exclusively on a skills and behavioural basis", the statement added. As there was no concrete evidence to corroborate these statements, the club was unable to implement the appropriate disciplinary measures. Westerloppe now works in youth development at Rennes, where Gboho plays and where PSG's former sports director Olivier Létang is president.

In 2011 Mediapart revealed an alleged attempt by the French Football Federation to limit the number of black and north African players in its youth scheme.

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