Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • Police arrest S. Korea ferry captain for negligence

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

Sport

French team debacle prompts soul-searching back home

©

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2010-06-22

Once the proud symbol of an inclusive nation, the French national team are now described by football experts and sociologists alike as a reflection of a broken society. But has the debate on the downfall of Anelka & Co let others off the hook?

“The Zidane generation has given way to the thug generation,” French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut announced on France Inter radio station Monday, in the latest evidence that the debate raging over France’s dismal World Cup campaign has given rise to profound soul-searching within French society.

Only a decade ago, when France’s multi-racial national team stood proud atop the football world, the country was celebrating a new spirit of unity in diversity. It was the so-called “black-blanc-beur” (black-white-Arab) spirit, a play on the famed “bleu-blanc-rouge” (blue-white-red) of the French flag.

Today, that vision of harmonious integration has been ripped apart by bitter squabbling at the heart of the French team. To some, Les Bleus – and none more so than disgraced striker Nicolas Anelka – have become a mirror image of France’s banlieues, the marginalised suburban neighbourhoods inhabited largely by immigrant communities and plagued by crime, poverty and widespread unemployment.

“There is no doubt that the French team is impregnated with the banlieue culture,” says sociologist Jean-Marie Brohm, referring to a cultural hodgepodge defined by foul-mouthed language, the law of the strongest and a profound dislike of authority.

According to French journalist and education specialist Emmanuel Davidenkoff, this culture is to blame both for the strife inside France’s football team and, in part, for the failure of pupils in the country’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The lure of money

Not all are comfortable with the analogy between the plight of France’s national team and that of its poorer suburbs. While Les Bleus’s South African campaign has gone horribly wrong, Davidenkoff goes on to point out that the individual players “can all boast of highly successful careers, achieved through hard work”.

For Xavier Rivoire, a journalist at France Football magazine, “talking of a ‘banlieue’ culture in the case of players who have long been millionaires” makes no sense at all.

When critics lash out at the players’ apparent lust for money, are they not touching on an obsession that is common to all the French, wherever they hail from?

Speaking on FRANCE 24, Azouz Begag, a former French minister of equal opportunity, said “there is no reason why the French team should not be a reflection of French society”.

Brohm goes a step further, suggesting that France’s footballers reflect "a ‘bling-bling’ republic that is arrogant and corrupted by money”.

One paradoxical effect of the current furor engulfing the team is the relative respite it has offered the man formerly branded as the chief architect of the demise of French football, coach Raymond Domenech.

That is unlikely to last. “Whether on the football pitch or in the classroom, responsibility lies ultimately with the people in charge,” says Davidenkoff.

Domenech and members of the French Football Federation beware.

 

Date created : 2010-06-22

  • WORLD CUP 2010

    South Africa and France crash out of World Cup

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP

    French squad quit training session over Anelka eviction

    Read more

  • FOOTBALL

    Timeline of Les Bleus' fall from grace

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)