July 1998: France wins for the first time of History the World Cup. The whole country celebrates for nights and days the new heroes, symbols of solidarity, excellence, courage. The leitmotiv of the popular jubilation is “La France Black-Blanc-Beur” (“The Black-White-Brown France“): the multiculturality of France is proudly claimed, and the 22 young men of different color skin (black, white and brown) united under the French flag become models.
July 2010: France ends its participation to the World Cup in South Africa in the most disastrous situation ever. Not only the performances on the field were extremely weak compared to the usual standards of the team, but also the internal tension between the coach Raymond Domenech and some of the players proved how much the group was unbound. The ‘World Cup Fiasco” could have been considered to be the result of the growing pressure on players, the bad management, or even the too strong and self-centred personnalities, but it seems that some of the French Football Federation (FFF) officials want to blame it on the racial factor.
April 2011: French newspapers reveal that François Blaquart, the Technical Director of the FFF asked for the introduction of non-official racial quotas for the National Team: following his considerations, the ratio of Black and Arabs in the National Team should not exceed 30% there should be more white people in it. If not enough, it seems that the idea was accepted by some officials, including Laurent Blanc, the trainer of the National Team. Laurent Blanc was a player during the 1998 World Cup; he was part of that “Black-Blanc-Beur” dream team, he held in his own hands this World Cup he won together with Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry or Lilian Thuram.
Apparently, ethnic diversity is a good thing only if the Black and Brown bring the world cups; in a difficult context, although, they are persona non grata. What is interesting here, is to point out that in the presence of players from migrant minorities has always been natural to French football and French sport scene in general. People like Luis Fernandez, Yannick Noah, or Djamel Bourras who won competitions as French athlets were always pointed to the “Français issus de l’immigration” as being examples of successful “integration” (although there is absolutely no sense in talking about integration to the French society of somebody who is born in France and has always since then lived in France).
Nevertheless, although colored athlets are common in French Teams, one has to note that officials in Federations are almost never, never, anybody else than “white” people: colored people are accepted as bodies of the French Sport, but not as brains. Here again, the FFF proved they shared these racist views: Laurent Blanc, during this meeting on quotas, also mentionned that the team needs more “little clever white guys able to play the game smartly” and less “big, strong and athletic black guys”. For Blanc and for other officials of the FFF, the problem of the ratio of black/brown/white people in the National Team is then not only a question of “identity”, or “adequate” representation of the French society; it goes far beyond: they simply assume that the simple fact of being black/brown/white enhances some type of abilities, more intellectual for white people, and more physical for black people. These are pure racial stereotypes. They are, sadly, more and more common in a France where the nationalist anti-migration party Front National is becoming day after day more popular.
Sport was maybe the only field in French labour market where people were selected without any discrimination regarding to the skin color or origin: only durations, speed, goals, points, performances could decide. Now, it might well become the sad mirror of a desintegrating society, where gaps grow bigger every day. If the Ministry of Sports doesn’t severely condemn the behaviour of the FFF and doesn’t force the officials that pronounced racist views to resign, France would simply give to the French people the clear message that yes, they now live in a real state of apartheid.