{"code":"26567","sect":"Opinion","sect_slug":"opinion","hits":"323","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202212\/opinion\/26567","link_edit":"","name":"Will French Nationalists Celebrate if Mbapp\u00e9 Wins His Second World Cup?","slug":"will-french-nationalists-celebrate-if-mbappe-wins-his-second-world-cup-","info":"With the knockout stage of the 2022 Qatar World Cup set to begin on Saturday, France\u2019s national team is defending its title despite the rejection of the country\u2019s ascendant extreme Right. Les Bleus, most of whom were born to immigrant parents, are favored to win the tournament, led by star player Kylian Mbapp\u00e9 in the absence of injured striker Karim Benzema.","mtag":"Inequality","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/amurillo'\u003E \u00c1lvaro Murillo\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"alvaro-murillo":{"sort":"amurillo","slug":"alvaro-murillo","path":"alvaro_murillo","name":"\u00c1lvaro Murillo","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"323","pict":{"cms-image-000038231-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38231","name":"cms-image-000038231.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038231.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038231.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038231-jpg","text":"<p>Los jugadores de la selecci\u00f3n nacional de f\u00fatbol de Francia participan durante una sesi\u00f3n de entrenamiento en el campo de entrenamiento del equipo en Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, al sur de Par\u00eds, el 15 de noviembre de 2022, cinco d\u00edas antes del torneo de f\u00fatbol de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA Qatar 2022. (Foto por BERTRAND GUAY \/ AFP)<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003ELos jugadores de la selecci\u00f3n nacional de f\u00fatbol de Francia participan durante una sesi\u00f3n de entrenamiento en el campo de entrenamiento del equipo en Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, al sur de Par\u00eds, el 15 de noviembre de 2022, cinco d\u00edas antes del torneo de f\u00fatbol de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA Qatar 2022. (Foto por BERTRAND GUAY \/ AFP)\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038351-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"38351","name":"cms-image-000038351.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038351.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038351.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038351-jpg","text":"<p>(180630) -- KAZAN, junio 30, 2018 (Xinhua) -- El jugador Kylian Mbappe (i), de Francia, festeja su anotaci\u00dbn durante el partido de octavos de final de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA Rusia 2018, ante Argentina, en Kaz\u00b7n, Rusia, el 30 de junio de 2018. (Xinhua\/Li Ga) (jg) (rtg)<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003E(180630) -- KAZAN, junio 30, 2018 (Xinhua) -- El jugador Kylian Mbappe (i), de Francia, festeja su anotaci\u00dbn durante el partido de octavos de final de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA Rusia 2018, ante Argentina, en Kaz\u00b7n, Rusia, el 30 de junio de 2018. (Xinhua\/Li Ga) (jg) (rtg)\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":38351,"date":{"live":"2022\/12\/02"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"12","data_post_dateLive_DD":"02","text":"\u003Cp id=\"docs-internal-guid-63c6a2f4-7fff-383b-7dea-b424831e0c14\" dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202211\/internacionales\/26495\/El-peor-enemigo-de-la-campeona-del-mundo-est%C3%A1-en-casa.htm\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003ELeer en espa\u00f1ol\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWith the exception of four players, France\u2019s national team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar consists entirely of the children of immigrants. 21 of \u003Cem\u003ELes Bleus\u003C\/em\u003E were born to parents from African countries, former French colonies or overseas territories, the Philippines, Spain, and Germany. Two other players \u2014goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga\u2014 were born outside French territory.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe problem for France\u2019s xenophobic far Right is that the country\u2019s team won the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and, before the first whistle was even blown in Qatar, was favored to win it all again. But to root for the national team, the xenophobes must cheer for a group that features the athletic and robust sons of immigrants and boys from the \u003Cem\u003Ebanlieues\u003C\/em\u003E \u2014the multiethnic suburbs\u2014 who, from time to time, rebel in the streets against the elites who scorn the neighborhoods as hotbeds of crime and terrorism.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 2018, Les Bleus entered the World Cup as favorites to win it all, and France\u2019s extreme right-wing groups similarly rejected the team. Now, in the final weeks of 2022, the country\u2019s far-right movement has grown even stronger after achieving its best electoral results ever at the April 2022 polls.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThus, France\u2019s powerful, majority-Black soccer team faces opposition from a far Right that has been rejecting the plurality that these players embody since before many of them were born. Indeed, in 1996, extreme right-wing political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said that France did not feel represented by its team. His France, of course.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERather than a random, one-off jab, Le Pen\u2019s comment encapsulates the right-wing stance that a soccer team made up of immigrants could not possibly reflect French identity. In 2013, Marine Le Pen\u2014Jean-Marie's daughter and the heir to his National Front party\u2014spelled out the Right\u2019s contempt for the national team even more explicitly than her father. \"It's some kind of gang of petulant kids who inspire no national pride and make a mockery out of representing France,\" she said. Nine years later, Marine Le Pen came extremely close to winning the French presidential election.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWithout admitting it, France\u2019s National Front\u2014now rebranded as the National Gathering\u2014promotes ultra-conservative, nationalist and racist policies. The movement\u2019s slogans clash with the diversity and inclusiveness that the French soccer team symbolizes. When the team won the 2018 World Cup, President Emanuel Macron celebrated the French team\u2019s victory by telling the players, \"Never forget where you come from or your parents, who gave their time to support you along the way (...). That's France.\"\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYet in April\u2019s second-round presidential election, over 13 million French citizens, or 42% of the total electorate, voted for the far-right Le Pen. Macron, a centrist, managed to win his second term, but the far Right\u2019s strong showing reflects the rise of like-minded movements across Europe and beyond in the last decade.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFrench progressives blame Macron and his government\u2019s continued alignment with the elites\u2019 positions for enabling the rise of the radical Right. In October 2018, hundreds of thousands of protesters from the \"yellow vests\" movement reproached him for just that. The movement\u2019s socio-economic demands included calls to redress exclusion and that France adapt to its new ethnic, social, and cultural reality.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat reality is well reflected in the World Cup team that head coach Didier Deschamps has assembled. \"The team has players from Africa and the overseas territories. That has always been an asset for soccer and for all French sports. They are all French, and they are all proud to be French,\u201d the coach said four years ago. But Deschamps \u2014a World Cup champion both as coach in 2018 and as a player in 1998\u2014 has had to answer for his own alleged racist bias in the past.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFrance enters Qatar as a favorite to win the tournament despite injuries to stars Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kant\u00e9, and Karim Benzema. The three headline a team composed of players of African descent as well as residents of the banlieues outside of Paris populated by a working class dissatisfied with the elites on either side of the political aisle. But after being the first team to qualify for the round of 16 with strong performances against Australia and Denmark, their absence does not seem insurmountable. The team can still count on Kylian Mbapp\u00e9, the new international soccer star, who developed his power and speed at his Cameroonian father's soccer school in Bondy, in Paris\u2019s northeastern suburbs.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMbapp\u00e9 won the last World Cup in Moscow, but he\u2019s competing at an even higher level now. He is the world\u2019s highest paid soccer player, raking in almost 95 million dollars per year from endorsement deals and his salary from the PSG club managed by Nasser Al-Khela\u00effi (a member of the Qatari emir\u2019s circle). Mbapp\u00e9 has turned out to be the best player from his neighborhood, but he\u2019s not the only one. Deschamps\u2019 squad also includes 6\u20194\u201d-defender William Saliba, born to Cameroonian and Lebanese parents. Saliba trained with Mbapp\u00e9 at Bondy when they were both teenagers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EReal Madrid striker Karim Benzema, the son of Algerian immigrants, made this year\u2019s World Cup roster, but two days before the tournament began, he reported a muscle injury. Benzema had been excluded from France\u2019s national soccer team for nearly five years because of clashes with previous national squads. In 2016, Benzema blamed his long absence from Les Bleus on his background as an immigrant and accused coach Deschamps of bowing to pressure from racist groups. At the time, former soccer player Eric Cantona expressed his support for Benzema, asserting that the striker had been the victim of the coach\u2019s racial discrimination: \u201cDeschamps has a very French name. Perhaps he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Like the Mormons in the United States, nobody in his family has mixed with anyone.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBenzema has also spoken about external pressure on the French national team, noting \u201cthe extremist party has reached the second round in France\u2019s last two elections.\u201d At the time, he did not know that the country\u2019s radical Right would continue to grow and gain unprecedented electoral support in 2022.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEmmanuel Macron, like his predecessors, has made sure to don the blue jersey. \u201cFingers crossed; I'm with them, and on December 18 the team bus will slowly drive down the Champs-Elysees,\u201d he said in a documentary broadcast on French television on the Sunday that the World Cup began in Qatar.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMacron also understands the French soccer team\u2019s political value because of its composition and origins, as well as because of the players\u2019 political intentions. The latter includes the players\u2019 desire to kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at the 2021 Euro Championship. Right-wing politicians immediately upbraided the team for the gesture.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe French men\u2019s squad also spoke out about the many questions surrounding Qatar\u2019s human rights violations. \u201cIn the tumultuous context of this World Cup, we want to remember our commitment to respect for human rights (...). Our passion should not be the cause of others\u2019 misfortune,\u201d a group of players said in a jointly written letter. The missive acknowledged that the players had recently listened to activist organizations; they also announced that they will donate funds to the same organizations. They signed the letter: \"The players of the 2022 French National Team and Generation 2018.\" In other words, the world champions.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp style=\"text-align: right;\" dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003E*Translated by Jessica Kirstein\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}