French champions confirm Football Leaks scouting revelations
Paris Saint-Germain have admitted that they carried out illegal racial profiling of young players when scouting new talent for the club.
The Guardian, citing a report by the French investigative news website Mediapart, says that PSG scouts were told to state whether the young players were French, north African, West Indian or African, “allegedly in order to limit the number of black recruits”.
The information reportedly came from documents contained within the Football Leaks dossier, and the revelation is embarrassing for the French champions.
The compilation of data on an individual’s race, religion or ethnicity is forbidden in France but according to Mediapart it was standard practice at PSG from 2013 until the end of last season.
The Guardian says that PSG have admitted that racial profiling took place but added that the senior management was “not aware” it was going on.
In a statement the club said: “Paris Saint Germain reaffirms its firm condemnation of all forms of discrimination, racism or ethnic monitoring.
“Forms with illegal content were used between 2013 and 2018 by the training centre’s department responsible for player scouting outside the Ile de France region. These forms were introduced at the sole personal initiative of the head of this department.”
The sceptics may say that PSG’s declaration stretches the bounds of credibility given the duration of the alleged profiling and, as Mediapart reports, there have been rumours of such a practice for years.
In March 2014 a 13-year-old came to the attention of PSG while playing for FC Rouen in Normandy. The PSG scout, Serge Fournier, had to complete a form in which he was asked to identify if the Ivory Coast-born teenager was French, north African, West Indian or African.
The Guardian says that Fournier told Mediapart that PSG “didn’t want us to recruit players born in Africa, because you are never sure of their date of birth”.
Question of talent
In the same month it is alleged that Marc Westerloppe, then the head of recruitment outside the Paris area, spoke of a “problem with the direction the club is going in… there are too many West Indians and Africans in Paris”.
The Guardian reports that those comments drew an angry response from Pierre Reynaud, in charge of recruitment in the Paris region, who retorted: “It must not be a question of ethnicity but talent.”
Although Westerloppe was reported for his comments, he told an internal PSG inquiry that they were “false” and he was not disciplined by the club.
In response to the accusations, PSG have explained that an investigation was launched earlier this year to “understand how such practices could have existed and to decide on the necessary measures to be taken”.
They added that the diversity of their current squad proves that “scouting is decided solely on a skills and behavioural basis”.