Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol has been heavily criticised after saying African players are "powerful" but suggesting they lack intelligence and discipline.
Sagnol, 37, told local newspaper Sud Ouest: "The advantage of what I would call the typical African player is that they are cheap... ready to fight.
"But football is not just about that, it is about technique, intelligence, discipline, so you need everything."
Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud said the comments were misinterpreted.
He told Europe 1: "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's former France team-mate Lilian Thuram said the comments were "damaging", while SOS Racisme described them as "uninhibited anti-black racism".
The anti-racism group urged the French League, French Football Federation and sports ministry to impose "immediate sanctions".
And the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) said 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."
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.
He said: "I don't fancy seeing 12 players clearing off for two months every two years."
Sagnol's comments emerged on the day Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio was barred from holding any position with world governing body Fifa for six months for making racist remarks.
Uefa banned Tavecchio for six months on October 7 after referred to "eating bananas" when discussing the influx of foreign players into Italian football.
That European ban has been made worldwide by Fifa.