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France coach Deschamps to sue Cantona for defamation
The former Man United forward accused Deschamps of racial discrimination in his selection process for the national team.

FRANCE HEAD COACH Didier Deschamps has filed a complaint for defamation against Manchester United great Eric Cantona.

Cantona gave an interview to the Guardian newspaper in May 2016 where he questioned Deschamps’ handling of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa during his tenure in charge of Les Bleus.

Benzema was barred from France’s Euro 2016 plans when he was implicated in an attempted extortion targeting his one-time international team-mate Matthieu Valbuena.

France’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court, annulled the validity of the investigation into Benzema’s alleged involvement in the blackmail plot in July and he has been available for international selection since Euro 2016.

Deschamps has opted against recalling the Real Madrid star, while Ben Arfa — currently out of favour at Paris Saint-Germain — won the last of his 15 France caps against England in November 2015.

Speaking to RMC, Deschamps lawyer Carlo Alberto Brusa confirmed his client would take legal recourse on account of Cantona’s claims that Benzema and Ben Arfa had been treated differently on account of their ethnicity.

“When we are treated as racist and we are not, we want justice,” Brusa said.

“That means that certain remarks have to be sanctioned by criminal justice, that means that defamation should be retained.”

Brusa also suggested Cantona’s remarks had proved needlessly inflammatory on a national level.

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“The context was extremely heavy and there was an almost national and public debate to know if Mr Deschamps was racist or not,” he said.

“It is something that can have catastrophic consequences, although Mr Deschamps is extremely strong and has been to face the situation.”

Deschamps retained his post with France after an extra-time defeat to Portugal in the final of Euro 2016 and led the team to qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

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