Didier Deschamps to sue Eric Cantona over racism claim

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What is it with France and international tournaments in recent years?

In Euro 2008, they came bottom of their group after picking up just one point from their three matches.

In 2010, there was a major disagreement between manager Raymond Domenech and many senior French players during the World Cup in South Africa in a tournament which also saw they crash out at the group stage.


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They could only reach the quarter-finals in Euro 2012 and at the 2014 World Cup but surely things would be different in 2016. They are hosting the European Championships and have the squad to go all the way.

However, they've already had to deal with many problems before the competition has even started.

Star striker Karim Benzema and midfielder Mathieu Valbuena are embroiled in a sex blackmail case and weren’t able to be selected - not to mention the absence of Mamadou Sakho due to a failed drugs test.

Then, after Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa were left out of Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad, French footballing legend Eric Cantona accused the manager of racism.

Cantona's accusation

Both Benzema and Ben Arfa are of North African origin and, earlier this week, the former Manchester United striker told the Guardian: "Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player.

"But 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.

"So I'm not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him.

"Especially after (French Prime Minister Manuel) Valls said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today.

"But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that."

Deschamps reaction

Deschamps, unsurprisingly, has reacted angrily to the serious accusation and is now suing his former teammate.

Benzema was left out for his involvement in the alleged blackmail scandal while Ben Arfa is among eight players on the stand-by list. Therefore, it’s hard to understand Cantona’s accusation of racism.

Deschamps’ lawyer, Carlos Brusa, told reporters, per Sky News, they wanted to penalise "the unacceptable slanderous and defamatory statements that harm Mr Deschamps' integrity.”

While head of the French Football Federation Noel Le Graet described Cantona’s comments as “ridiculous.”

Despite all of this controversy, France will go into the tournament as 3/1 favourites as they look to emulate the success they had when they last hosted a major tournament - the 1998 World Cup which saw them run out 3-0 winners against Brazil in the final.

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Wayne Rooney
Karim Benzema
Manchester United
Eric Cantona

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