French minister sets up anti-racism body

by AFP on May 17, 2011

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French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno on Monday announced the setting up of a committee to fight against discrimination in sports headed by former Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel.

"We can't say whether discrimination is on the rise. In any case, they are being revealed more often," Jouanno said.

"Internet has freed speech and made discrimination more visible."

The committee made up of 40 people will be divided into two working groups, one overseeing legal matters and the other focusing on education.

"We have a tendency to trivialise discriminatory comments and gestures," said Guadeloupian Flessel, a five-time Olympic medallist, who claimed she had "suffered (from discrimination) at the beginning of her career".

"We have to educate and if necessary to take action."

The initiative follows on from a charter against homophobia in sports launched last year by former Sports Minister Rama Yade with Jouanno deciding to extend its functions to racist and sexual discrimination.

French football was embroiled in a race row in recent weeks after a transcript of a meeting last November was released in which top officials discussed introducing quotas on the number of dual-nationality players at youth training centres.