The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Deschamps backed after race claims
Frank Leboeuf has defended Didier Deschamps over Eric Cantona’s suggestion that race played a factor in his selection of France’s squad for the European Championships.
The retired defender revealed, however, that he warned his former international captain the make-up of his squad would leave him open to criticism.
After the France manager overlooked Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa, Cantona told the Guardian: “(They) are two of the best players in France and will not play. And for sure, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open.
“Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.”
Deschamps, a long-term adversary of Cantona, has not responded to the claims but his lawyer has since spoken of their plans to sue the former Manchester United forward, who denied labelling him a racist.
Leboeuf remains defensive of his friend, but does not believe Cantona should be punished.
“I was quite appalled by what he said, because I know Didier very well,” Leboeuf, an analyst for ESPN, told PA Sport.
“The thing that Didier might be racist, it’s very bad, because his best friend is Marcel Desailly – as far as I know, Marcel is black – one of his best friends is Zinedine Zidane, and Zinedine comes from Algeria.”
Benzema was left out of the hosts’ squad after becoming embroiled in a blackmail saga with fellow France international Mathieu Valbuena over the reported existence of a sex tape.