Sagnol responds to racism allegations

Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol has responded to allegations of racism following comments he made surrounding African footballers.

In an interview with local newspaper Sud Ouest, the former France international suggested the advantages of signing African players were "that they are cheap" and "ready to fight".

Sagnol went on to state that football "is about technique, intelligence, discipline, so you need everything".

Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud later stated that the comments were misinterpreted and, on Thursday, Sagnol moved to dismiss any suggestions that he was a racist.

"I have been accused of racism. I have spent 32 years in the football dressing rooms without any problems," Sagnol told a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Lens.

"If through my lack of clarity and my imperfect semantics, I have made people feel offended, humiliated or hurt, I'm sorry.

"The interpretation that these persons were able to make in no way reflects my thoughts and humanistic convictions.

"When I speak of African [players], I speak just of young players coming to Europe with a will to succeed.

"When I talk about intelligence, of course I mean the tactical intelligence, and by lack of resources, training in Africa is not always as complete as in Europe."

Sagnol, a former coach of France Under-21s, received fresh criticism shortly after his news conference from FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne.

Taking to Twitter, Champagne stated: "Just read Wily Sagnol's statements on African players, "cheap, powerful but football is also about technic [sic], intelligence and discipline.

"Totally unacceptable because it reinforces the prejudice and the basis of so many racists' vision against Africa and Africans...And such a crass ignorance of the history of African football."