French exit prompts race related blame
The issue of race has been suggested as one of the reasons in France’s early World Cup exit.
France, who won the World Cup in 1998, boasted a multi-racial squad and were hailed as sporting heroes.
At the time the government claimed vindication for its model of a assimilating ethnic minorities from its former African and Caribbean colonies.
But now, after their humiliating elimination from this year’s tournament in South Africa, the issue of race again lurks close to the surface.
The far-right National Front party has already complained that the team did not fully reflect France, where the vast majority are still white.
Right-wing philosopher Alain Finkielkraut branded the players as products of the “scum” generation, applying a term President Nicholas Sarkozy once controversially used to describe rioters from France’s multi-ethnic, underprivileged suburbs.
It seems a far cry from the glorious days of 1998, when France fell head over heels in love with its multi-ethnic World Cup-winning team of “Blacks, Blancs, Beurs” – blacks, whites and Arabs – feels a million miles away.
Centrist leader Francois Bayrou warned that France must not think in terms of ethnicity, saying the worst-case scenario was one where: “we have completely failed to integrate and all that is left is clans, with the French separated according to their origins”.
The football fiasco has taken an increasingly political turn with the leading sports daily L’Equipe dubbing the debacle “a state scandal”.
Mr Sarkozy has vowed to personally investigate the matter.