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Deschamps to sue Cantona over racial discrimination slur

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France's head coach Didier Deschamps looks on during a training session in Clairefontaine en Yvelines on May 26, 2016, as part of the team's preparation for the upcoming Euro 2016 European football championships. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

France’s head coach Didier Deschamps looks on during a training session in Clairefontaine en Yvelines on May 26, 2016, as part of the team’s preparation for the upcoming Euro 2016 European football championships. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

France coach Didier Deschamps will sue Eric Cantona for slander after the Manchester United legend accused his former international and club teammate of racial discrimination in his choice of players for Euro 2016, his lawyer said on Friday.

Cantona told British daily The Guardian on Thursday that Deschamps had snubbed Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa because of their “north African origins”.

“We are going to file a complaint for slander,” Deschamps’ lawyer, Carlo Alberto Brusa, told AFP.

“These words are unacceptable, unworthy and Cantona brings shame on France, the French people and the France team which is the epitome of diversity. To bring up north African origins is to deny that the two players are French.”

Cantona, who won 45 caps for France between 1987 and 1995, has in the past been very critical of his former teammate Deschamps, who in 1996 he branded a “vulgar water carrier”.

The former Marseille and Leeds United striker retired in 1997 before taking up a career in cinema. In 2007 he married Franco-Algerian actress Rachida Brakni.

The exclusion of Benzema, of Algerian descent, follows his implication in an alleged attempt by one of his friends to blackmail international teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

Ben Arfa, of Tunisian origins, had been hopeful of making the squad after relaunching his career at Nice but instead had to settle for a place on Deschamps’s standby list of eight players.



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