The comments have been described by French Fare partner Licra as “peddling abject theories that during the course of history have led to men and women having their humanity denied”.
In a group interview, on Monday, with a local newspaper Sud-Ouest, Sagnol said: “The advantage of the typical African player is that he is not expensive when you take him, he’s generally ready to fight and he is powerful on the pitch. But football is not just that, it’s also technique, intelligence, discipline.”
The club and other coaches, including the former France defender and Montpellier HSC manager Rolland Courbis, have backed the 37 year-old.
Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud said the comments were misinterpreted.
Triaud told Europe 1 TV, “Willy Sagnol is anything but racist. The interpretation of his words is completely wrong. He is straight-talking and a man of action.
“African players arrive in France at a very young age. They obviously work hard physically but they lack a tactical level, tactical intelligence.
“We are not talking about the IQ of these players, but intelligence of the game. It has absolutely nothing to do with their IQ or ability as athletes.”
Sagnol, who took over as Bordeaux coach in the summer, also said the African Cup of Nations meant there would be “far fewer African players” joining the club.
“What’s sure is that while I am manager of the club there will be far fewer African players joining the ranks of Bordeaux, because I don’t want to find myself losing twelve players for two months every two years.” said Sagnol.
‘Indefensible’ says Louis Saha, ‘Boycott’ says Diouf
The remarks have caused an outcry in France. Politicians, ex-colleagues and football representatives have expressed their dismay and have called on football authorities and the sports ministry to take immediate action.
Sagnol’s former France team-mate Lilian Thuram said the comments were “damaging”, whilst another Fare member organisation SOS Racisme said they should be seen for what they are as “anti-black racism”.
Thuram said: “It is damaging that someone can hint that ‘the African players’ lack this or that quality.”
Former France international Louis Saha has harshly criticised Sagnol’s “indefensible” words, but not the man himself, saying he was 99% sure his ex-colleague in the national team was not a racist.
Former Olympique de Marseille President, and an elder statesman of French football, Pape Diouf has called on African footballers playing on the French Ligue 1 to boycott matches over the remarks.
Claude Le Roy, who has managed many African national football sides, pointed out the gaping hole in Sagnol’s logic by reminding the ex-St Etienne man of some of the city’s greatest Africans, such as the former Cameroonian footballer Eugène N’Jo Léa and the pop singer-songwriter Salif Keita.
Licra call-off parrnership with Bordeaux
Following Sagnol’s remarks, Fare partner LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism) have put an end to the partnership with the club Girondis de Bordeaux and said they are considering a legal complaint against the coach.
“The comments made by Willy Sagnol in a meeting with the readers of Sud-Ouest reveal a form of racism that is common and often banalised in football. LICRA is is shocked that Girondins de Bordeaux deny this and are not taking measures on the remarks made by their coach” said the anti-discrimination organisation in a statement.
“These abject theories are those that during the course of history have led to some kind of men and women having their humanity denied” added the statement.