Some counted the winners of the World Cup as an example of diversity and respect for immigrants, others saw this as an unfair reception.Photo of Catherine Ivil, Getty
July 15 in the Moscow “Luzhniki” team of France beat Croatia with a score of 4: 2 and the second time in history became the World Cup champion. But in social networks the representatives of the European team were nicknamed “the first African team to win the World Cup.” This is due to the composition of the French: of the 23 players in the application, 15 are descendants of African migrants, two are descendants of migrants from other continents.
Such a multinationality of France divided the fans into two camps: some praised the team for “diversity” and were called an example to unite the country, while others said that because of the abundance of players with African roots this team is “no longer France”.
This is not the first champion team in France, which includes players with African roots. In 1998, the team won the home World Cup – then it was played by Zinedine Zidane (Algeria), Lilian Thuram (Guadeloupe) and Patrick Vieira (Senegal). That team was called “Black-White-Arab” (Black-Blanc-Beur) by analogy with the blue-white-red flag of the country.
During the 1998 World Cup in France they actively supported the team and even after the victory they even invented the chanting of Zidane for the presidency, but at other times the decision to attract the descendants of immigrants to the national team was criticized. In 1996, the chairman of the National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, said that he considered “artificial” the idea of attracting football players from abroad and calling them the French national team. And according to the results of the 2000 poll, 36% of the French noted that there are “too many foreigners” in the national team.
At the World Cup in Russia, participated five African teams – Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria. But none of them could not overcome the stage of the group stage and go into the playoffs. Therefore, the French were nicknamed “the last African team”: England and Belgium also had descendants of African immigrants, but less.
Samuel Umtiti – born in Cameroon
Prensel Kimpembe is a father from the Congo
Paul Pogba – parents from Guinea
Kilian Mbagpe – father from Cameroon, mother from Algeria
Osman Dembele – mother from Mauritania
Korenten Tolisso is a father from Togo
Ngolo Kante – parents from Mali
Blaze Matyudi – father from Angola, mother from Congo
Stephen Nzonzi is a descendant of immigrants from Congo
Steve Mandanda – born in Congo
Nabil Fekir – parents from Algeria
Jibril Sidibe – Relatives in Mali
Benjamin Mendy – parents from Senegal
Tom Lemar is a descendant of immigrants from Nigeria
Adil Rami – parents from Morocco
With each match in Russia, the French were approaching the finals, and an important role in the team was played by the “Africans” Mbagpe, Pogba and Kante. According to Cameroonian journalist Nijie Ebai, many Cameroon residents supported France at the World Cup in 2018, because they “recognized themselves as players”. In the semifinals of the mundialya Samuel Umtiti, who lived in Cameroon for two years, scored the winning goal against the Belgian national team.
Along with the successes, there was growing discontent among the people who favored the “ethnic” French team. On July 10, Iranian politician Ali Motahari hinted that the French are weak in football without their “African giants,” and the use of immigrants creates a dishonest situation in the sport. And the day before the finals, former coach of the Croatian national team Igor Shtimats said that he does not understand who his compatriots are playing against.
Does anyone know who we are playing against in the finals? Kimpebe from Congo, Dembele from Mauritania, Sidibe from Mali, Umtiti from Cameroon, Pogba from Guinea, Tolisso from Togo, Matyudi from Angola, Kante from Mali, Nzonzi from Congo, Mbagpe from Cameroon, Mendi from Senegal, Mandada – from the Congo, Fequir – from Algeria. Respect!
Criticized the French and in Russia. After the finals, the leader of the LDPR party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, admitted that he was rooting for Croatia, because France has “no French, whole Africa”. The actress and former State Duma deputy Maria Kozhevnikova also was rooting for the Croats because of the African roots of most French football players.
After accusations of racism, she explained her position in more detail.
Many players have dual citizenship, and probably neither I nor many others would have paid attention to it if it were one, or two or even three players, four … Even the French who sat next to me and were ill for his team, also talked about this! In my post there is no color of the skin, no differences between the players, and in general between people. […]
Where do I write that all the players I listed above are unequal to others? Where? Of course, a football player, playing for the French national team, which has twice become the world champion, has more chances to win the title of champion, catch the course of my thoughts?
The Special Correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda Daria Aslamova published the material “How Africa defeated Europe, or a holiday with tears in her eyes” about the victory of the French national team at the Luzhniki stadium. The journalist noted that on the day of the finals of the 2018 World Cup her friends from the French right-wing National Front Party called her and said that they would support the Croats.
At two o’clock in the afternoon my committed drunken friends shouted into the phone that they were all rooting for Croatia. The phone was circling, and people explained that there was nothing to be sick of: Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Congo, Togo, Angola. The rest are Arabs and four whites (one of them is a Spaniard). Is that it, France? It’s not about racism, but let’s not pretend it’s a French team. Croats are the last white team in the championship. Our values are Christianity, devotion to the motherland, European traditions. What do Africans and Arabs? “.
But we must understand that all my friends from the former white French provinces, long occupied by migrants, where it is much easier to meet a woman in a burka with a brood of children than a white woman.
Later, Aslamova noted that she does not consider her article to be racist, because she quoted the words of her friends. “They told me what happened yesterday in France. There, two people were killed when Negroes and Arabs – let’s call things by their proper names – celebrated the victory. Do you think they are happy with this, that this French team won? “, She added .
Hopes for Change
In France, it is believed that the success of the football team will help improve the attitude towards immigrants in the country, undermined by the terrorist attacks of 2015 and 2016. Fans who met the team in Paris, in a conversation with The New York Times noted that the French players became the personification of the country and its diversity.
Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup.
80% of your team is African, cut out the racism and xenophobia.
50% of your team are Muslims, cut out the Islamophobia.
Africans and Muslims delivered you a second World Cup, now deliver them justice.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) 15 July 2018
A similar point of view is shared by the representatives of the team.
The French team has players of African descent from different countries. All this enriches French football, we are all French and are proud of it. Do not talk about where someone was born. Yes, of course, those who will watch tomorrow’s match will feel proud for those who were born on their land.
This is the France that we all love. Here she is. We have different origins, but we are still one. It’s the same with our team.
Today’s France is a country of different colors. There are so many people of different origins, and this makes France so beautiful. We all feel French. And we are happy to wear this uniform.
But history shows that the victory of the multinational team of France may not be enough to change something in the country. On the day of victory, footballers celebrating in the streets of Paris turned into riots: broken storefronts, clashes with police and detentions.
In 1998, similar hopes were placed on the “Black-White-Arab” team. The result of the activities of Zidane, Henri and Thuram team was to be a friendly meeting with the team of Algeria, a country whose relations were complicated by the war in the middle of the 20th century. But the Algerian fans booed the French anthem, and then ran out onto the field and tore off the match.
This time even the representatives of the “National Front” did not criticize the national team for the African roots of the players. “This team is what we want to promote. Players who sing the French anthem and show their affection for our country, “- said the head of the sports policy of the party Alexander Nikolic.