Football and Politics in France
As the entire soccer world now knows, the 2010 World Cup will probably go down as the lowest point in French soccer. Just four years ago, France lost to Italy in the finals on penalty kicks. This time around, neither team won a match, but France clearly self-destructed. The French team’s actions both on and off the field (or pitch as the Europeans say) has attracted a lot of media attention, including what does this say about French society.
The New York Times ran the article Racial Tinge Stains World Cup Exit in France, about how French nationalists reacted to the team’s collapse, including some racist overtones. The Economist also reported on antics of Les Bleus in their political section, showing that soccer is often more than a mere game. Both stories point out that when France won in 1998 (in Paris), it was seen as a demonstration French multiculturalism. However, views on minorities have shifted since then and now some are seeing that as a problem on the pitch. The question is now one of whether the French team’s performance in South Africa will affect politics in France, and then to what extent?