Les Bleus stunned the world of football when they went on strike during the tournament, refusing to train in protest at the decision to send Nicolas Anelka home following a half-time spat with coach Raymond Domenech.

At a meeting of the FFF's general council on July 2, Thuram called for France captain Patrice Evra to be suspended from international football, and the 38-year-old has now reiterated his stance that the federation have to come down hard on the chief protagonists of the strike.

"For me it's very serious," Thuram told L'Equipe. "By their action, the players were able to reawaken the latent racism in society.

"We are in the conclusion: 'The problems come from the fact that there are too many blacks in the France team'.

"When you come to this point to reawaken the bad sides of society, it means you have a responsibility.

"Some of the players just let it happen, of course, but it is those who started this act that must be punished."

Thuram, who is France's most capped player, having made 142 appearances for his country, resigned from his seat on the FFF board in the July 2 meeting.

The former Barcelona defender's resignation was not accepted by the board but he has vowed to leave if no action is taken.

"I might seem to be too rigid for some people, but I insist: what happened is, for me, unforgivable," Thuram continued.

"I need to find again my values in what I do. I want us to be giving out another image of football.

"It annoys me that we always talk about footballers as if they are irresponsible. If there are no sanctions I will go.

"If we go on without any strong sanctions, do you think there will be any moral to the story?"

As well as winning 142 caps for France, Thuram was part of the teams which won the 1998 World Cup, the European Championship two years later and the 2003 Confederations Cup. He also played in the 2006 World Cup final and, at club level, won two Serie A titles with Juventus and a UEFA Cup and an Italian Cup with Parma.

Outgoing FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes yesterday launched an investigation into the players' actions, setting up a three-man team who are set to present their findings back to the federal board during the second half of August.

The federation, the professional game, and the amateur league each have a representative on the team.