I recently read an article about french nationalism in soccer, and even though it isn’t very recent it was very interesting. The issue being brought up in the article is the fact that the citizens and the coach of the national team are racist towards the players that are either Muslim or have France as their second nation. The french see it as an insult and don’t believe that they should be present in their team. This is very interesting because it contrasts what happened in the World Cup of 1998. Back then, the french people referred to their country’s squad as “Black, Blanc, Beur (Black, White, Arab), because the team had a mix of the three groups. It was easy to support a winning team. That year, the french won the world cup over Brazil, and what could’ve sounded as a racist cry suddenly echoed throughout the country as a winning chant.
Fast forward to the 2010 World Cup. Coach Domenech, who had already suffered a lot of criticism due to his selection policy, loses control of this team, and many of the afro-descent players decide to not show up to practice. This unprofessional display led to poor results on the field, and the french nationals were eliminated in the group stage. Suddenly, “Black, Blanc, Beur” became an insult, not a quality. The coach was fired, but the people didn’t target him. They targeted the squad. A couple of the players, in fact, had also participated in the 1998 feat, but no one was spared from the criticism. News started to emerge, and soon the non-french players started to speak out against the coach and other teammates.
The article brings up the time where one french-born player started a fight with a Muslim player, but only the Muslim was punished for the incident. These problems in soccer, however, echo throughout the neighborhoods of the country. This isn’t a soccer problem. It’s a problem that has reached soccer. In 2002, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was “organizing a civil war”, according to Christiane Taubira, a member of the French National Assembly.
When taking into account what a commonplace is, this historical event describes it perfectly. Something that’s commonly found or seen. A general opinion. Racism was, and maybe still is, engrained in the french society. It is common throughout the country and, as shown by the article, transcends the political and social spheres, reaching areas that should be immune to such actions.