Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier said on Friday he was "deeply shocked" by accusations that he made racist remarks about players when he was coaching Ligue 1 club Nice last season.
"I am deeply shocked by the remarks attributed to me and which have been relayed by some in an irresponsible way, which hurt me deeply," Galtier said at a press conference.
The 56-year-old has denied making racist and Islamophobic remarks following allegations which surfaced in an email apparently sent by the former Nice sporting director Julien Fournier and which have been reported by various French media.
The message, which AFP has not been able to verify, was reportedly sent by Fournier to Dave Brailsford, the former head of British Cycling and now Director of Sport at chemicals giant Ineos, the owners of Nice.
"I was brought up on a state housing estate and in a multicultural environment with shared values and respect for other people, whatever their origins, colour or religion," Galtier added.
"I cannot accept having my name tarnished in this way. I have therefore decided to take legal action against anyone who tries to damage my reputation."
Galtier was speaking shortly after the public prosecutor in the southern French city of Nice announced that a preliminary investigation had been opened into possible "racial or religious discrimination".
Nice prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme told AFP that police searches were being carried out at the club's offices.
Galtier has received threats since the reports surfaced and has been placed under protection by PSG.
"The club supports Christophe Galtier in the face of the many and unacceptable threats he has received, and now hopes that this matter will be dealt with by the courts," the Qatar-owned club said in a statement to reporters on Friday.
Galtier, who won the Ligue 1 title with Lille in 2021, spent a year at Nice before moving to Paris at the end of last season.
PSG's leading supporters' group, Collectif Ultras Paris, has said it would "not be acceptable" for him to remain in charge if the allegations were proven to be true