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French clubs are closing door on African coaches – Ibenge

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The AS Vita coach has revealed that he has previously applied for jobs in France, but was never given a chance

Former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national team coach Florent Ibenge believes French clubs do not have confidence in employing African coaches.

Without disclosing clubs he has approached for a job, the 58-year-old says he was interested in coaching some professional French teams but his advances were ignored.

“I applied but there was no response. Is it racism? I don’t know. But what is certain, people are not ready [to hire African coaches]. When you apply, you are only offered youth teams,” said Ibenge as per Senegal Press Agency.

Ibenge’s CV has Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua as the only high-profile overseas club he has led, although only briefly as interim manager.

He has also previously taken charge of amateur French side SC Douai and boasts of knowledge of the football system in that country, having also played for some lower league clubs.

His experience at the top level also including leading DRC at three Africa Cup of Nations Cup finals as well as guiding the local-based Leopards players to the 2016 African Nations Championship title.

But the coach feels that African coaches are denied chances in France despite Ligue 1 and several football academies being dominated by Arab and African players.

“But when you look at how many coaches from this community [African and Arab], you can count on the fingers of one hand, that means that there is a problem,” Ibenge said.

“Being black or North African does not prevent you from being able to think and lead. Does that mean we’re good just to perform and not to lead?”

While several French coaches work in Africa, taking charge of clubs or national teams, it is the opposite of their African counterparts to get jobs in France.

Former Senegal international Omar Daf is, however, head coach of Ligue 2 side Sochaux, representing a rare scenario of African managers landing coaching opportunities at professional clubs in France.

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