French football giants Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly probing claims that racial profiling was used in the scouting of young players, with allegations that Africans were avoided over concerns about their date of birth.
According to reports by investigative website Mediapart, which cites documents released as part of the Football Leaks scandal, PSG scouts subjected promising young players to racial profiling from 2013 until as late as the spring of 2018.
Mediapart says that PSGs scouting department used evaluation forms that included noting a players ethnicity as being French, North African, West Indian or African.
A source has reportedly confirmed to AFP that the forms existed, and that the club has opened an investigation into the matter.
If true, the instances could be deemed illegal as such social profiling is banned in France.
Concerns were said to have initially been raised over a row involving a then-13-year-old prospect, Yann Gboho, who was stated as being of "West Indian" origin. The PSG scout who evaluated him, Serge Fournier, said that "instead of French, it should have said white, especially as all the players we recommended were French," according to Mediapart.
Fournier is quoted as saying that "PSG didn't want us to recruit players born in Africa, because you are never sure of their date of birth."
Gboho, now 17, is currently on the books at Rennes and has played for the French under-18 team.
The issue reportedly caused ruptures at a meeting in 2014, where Marc Westerloppe, a key scout, allegedly complained that “there are too many West Indians and Africans in Paris."
That is said to have prompted Pierre Reynaud – the head of youth recruitment in the Paris area – to argue that “it must not be a question of ethnicity but of talent.”
Westerloppe reportedly rejected the accusations against him as "false, malicious and stupid" after being summoned to a meeting following a complaint.
PSG have admitted that the profiling existed, but “that things were done in secret” and that “management was not aware,” according to AFP.
Mediapart claims that the profiling forms continued to be used as late as the spring of 2018.
The Parisian club have also come under fire recently over allegations that they circumvented Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by artificially inflating sponsorship deals.
The club, who are owned by wealthy Qatari investors, deny the claims and insist that they have“always acted in full compliance with the laws and regulations enacted by sports institutions.”