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Racism and the World Cup

John Simkin

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France's National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen that there were too many "players of colour" in the national side. If you remember, Le Pen also criticised the 1998 world cup side as "not reflective of French society".

Lilian Thuram, France's most capped player, who was born on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, is one of 16 non-whites in France's 23-man squad, had this to say about Le Pen:

"Clearly, he is unaware that there are Frenchmen who are black, Frenchmen who are white, Frenchmen who are brown. I think that reflects particularly badly on a man who has aspirations to be president of France but yet clearly doesn't know anything about French history or society. That's pretty serious. He's the type of person who'd turn on the television and see the American basketball team and wonder: 'Hold on, there are black people playing for America? What's going on?' When we take to the field, we do so as Frenchmen. All of us. When people were celebrating our win, they were celebrating us as Frenchmen, not black men or white men. It doesn't matter if we're black or not, because we're French. I've just got one thing to say to Jean Marie Le Pen. The French team are all very, very proud to be French. If he's got a problem with us, that's down to him but we are proud to represent this country. So Vive la France, but the true France. Not the France that he wants."

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