PARIS: French prosecutors have opened an investigation into claims Paris Saint-Germain subjected apprentices to racial profiling, breaking anti-discrimination laws.
The alleged practice at the reigning French champions was first revealed by investigative website Mediapart. The 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: French, West Indian, North African, 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.
PSG said its own probe into the racial profile allegations had shown 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, while the club is being probed for allegedly flaunting 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.