French football has been hit by another race controversy after a professional footballer says he was racially abused by a linesman.
Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) is investigating claims by Auxerre midfielder Kamel Chafni that linesman Johann Perruax had made a slur against him during his team's 1-0 defeat to Brest on Saturday.
Morrocan Chafni, who was sent off for protesting the alleged remarks, told French sports newspaper L'Equipe that he had told Perruax that he had failed to spot Brest defender Gregory Lorenzi's foul on Auxerre forward Roy Contout.
“There was a foul that wasn't signalled, I went toward the linesman and told him that it wasn't normal,” Chafni told L'Equipe. “He answered 'Get lost, Arab.'”
Chafni says he then went to protest to Chapron about the abuse and received two consecutive yellow cards.
“I went to see the referee, I explained to him what happened,” Chafni said. “He showed me a yellow card, I told him, repeated (to him) that it was unacceptable, and he shows me a red (card).”
Chafni says that Contout, Brest forward Larsen Toure and Brest's physiotherapist all heard Perruax's racial slur and he wants Perruax to be punished.
“(I) want to go all the way with this. It's serious, it goes beyond sport,” he said. “I hope the league opens an inquiry and will clamp down. If they don't believe me, my place is no longer in French football. I'm outraged.”
In a statement released on Monday, LFP president Frederic Thiriez had ordered an inquiry to be opened immediately “so that light is shed on this matter as quickly as possible”. Thiriez took the decision after speaking with Auxerre president Gerard Bourgoin, the league's head of referees Marc Batta, and match referee Tony Chapron.
But Chapron said after the match that he “categorically denies there may have been racist remarks levelled at Chafni” by Perruax, adding that he knows Perruax and that it would be entirely out of character.
Chafni intends to file a complaint at his local police station.
“I'm really outraged by what happened,” club president Bourgoin told the RMC radio station.