PARIS — According to a report from the Mediapart news website, Paris Saint-Germain scouts have been required for years to list ethnic origins of potential recruits.
Mediapart and French TV program "Envoye Special" have reported that a young black player regarded as one of France’s most promising players was overlooked by PSG because of his skin colour.
Following an investigation based on the "Football Leaks" documents, Mediapart said "only one black player was recruited between 2013 and 2018 by PSG’s provincial scouting network."
The online website claims that 17-year-old Rennes attacking midfielder Yann Gboho, who plays for France’s under-18 team, was disregarded by PSG for its academy when he was 13 because he was black, and "that the club’s management in fact decided to cover up those implicated in the scandal."
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).
"It was a veritable ethnic identity file," Mediapart wrote.
French law prohibits the collection of personal data that reveals the racial or ethnic origins of individuals.
According to a document obtained by Mediapart, PSG scout Serge Fournier gave Gboho excellent ratings and was impressed by the player’s "technicity" and "eye for the goal" among other qualities. He told Mediapart that PSG did not want scouts to recruit "players born in Africa, because one is never certain about their dates of birth."
Mediapart also obtained documents of a meeting held in 2014 during which Marc Westerloppe, who was then in charge of PSG players’ recruiting in France except for the Paris area, said the club should find a better "balance."
"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.
Mediapart said the document’s authenticity is not contested by PSG, which was contacted before the story’s publication.
PSG confirmed to Mediapart the existence of ethnic classification but said the system had been operated in secret and that the PSG management was unaware of it.
Seven years ago, French soccer was rocked by revelations from Mediapart that then-national team coach Laurent Blanc and others discussed informal quotas limiting black and Arab youth players’ involvement in the national squad.