The French Football Federation has launched an inquiry into claims that national coach Laurent Blanc and others in the upper echelons of the French game secretly agreed to limit the number of black and Arab players in national training programmes.
Blanc and others denied such discussions took place.
Mohammed Belkaceni, a technical adviser for the FFF, recorded a meeting during which the quota idea was mooted and claims he handed the tape over to his bosses in November but that nothing was done.
As a result French sports minister Chantal Jouanno demanded an inquiry and set a deadline for the end of the week.
Blanc took over the national job after France’s disastrous world cup in South Africa last year and has been credited with the team’s recent return to form. But he finds himself very much at the centre of the scandal. He is heard on the tape recording backing the idea of quotas for young players of dual nationality and suggesting that the large number of black players made for a more physical and less technical style of football.
He quotes his Spanish counterparts as saying that they didn’t have such problems as they “don’t have any blacks.”
“As far as I know there is no such project about players quotas, as far as I know,” he said on Wednesday.
The federation’s technical director Francois Blanquart has been suspended since the claims emerged.
Former French international Lilian Thuram – a teammate of Blanc when France won the World Cup in 1998 - said he was shocked when he heard about the possible quotas.
Other former French internationals Basil Boli and Luc Sonor added their outraged voices to the growing clamour.
Blanc, currently on holiday in Italy, is due to face questioning along with three others on Friday or Saturday. According to some French media reports, he is considering resigning.
Two enquiries are being carried out into the quota claims, one by the FFF and the other by the ministry for sport.