Kicked into touch?

Jul 17 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Soccer fans will be glad to hear that legendary French coach, Guy Roux, will be taking his rightful place on the touchline next season for Belgium Ligue 1 club Racing Lens.

That's because his continuing involvement in the game had been hanging in the balance ever since the French professional soccer league rejected his contract because of his age - 68 and going strong.

Just to show that happy ends don't only occur in Hollywood, Roux's ban was successfully appealed and overruled by the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF). Leaving him to go back to doing what he does best.

This case couldn't have come at a better time. Not only does it mix a bit of France's number one sport, but it also dovetails perfectly with President Sarkozy's plan to allow the French to work longer if they so desire.

In fact Sarkozy himself had something to say on the matter, with his spokesman saying that "The President finds this decision regrettable. . . The President believes it is the rule that is old, not Guy Roux."

While this case may be unique in that Mr. Roux probably doesn't really need to work, it certainly seems strange that a man, although past official retirement age, who wishes to continue earning his livelihood and is physically and mentally sound to do his job competently would be denied such a wish.

So it's hard to believe that the law in this case could be considered anything but age discrimination. Other than for the fact that it's still on the books, it's hard to make a case for why this highly respected coach shouldn't be able to continue his career.

Then there's the "on the other handÖ" While I still think that the idea that people will buy in to Sarkozy's plan to work longer or later still sucks (it's a pity that one should have to work past retirement, in fact, it's absurd), this case will no doubt be mediatized favorably to show Mr. Roux as a beaming example to French workers across the land.

Which is exactly what French Economy Minister, Christine Lagarde, didi, citing Roux as a symbol of the government policy of persuading people to work longer.

"I think it's stupid to tell someone good and competent you can't work because you're too old," she said.

Let's hope that when your average worker, who doesn't have an ample bank account, applies for a job at age 68 to make ends meet, the media will be there to ask why he has to work instead of why he can't.