Sports and Politics..I guess they Mix in FranceBy: Sarah | October 30th, 2009
OM-PSG on the Assembly Benches
“Yah! Always the same ones who are on the bench!”
“On my mother, I am vexed!”
Coming from America, I find it surprising how involved politicians are in sports in France. In the US, Presidents and politicians may be seen at sporting events and even may comment on their favorite teams, but in general sporting events are not seen as political events. I’ve learned that this isn’t necessarily the case in France. This is especially true with the French National team, which has been given the nickname “Black, Blanc, Beur,” and has become a symbol of the new, multicultural France. Some politicians (Le Pen) even made public speeches on how the the team wasn’t “French enough” after their wins in the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship.
This debate typically flares up whenever France plays a former colony team– such as last year’s match against Tunisia. At the beginning of the match the Marsellaise (French National Anthem) was booed loudly by sections of the crowd, most of who were French citizens of Magreb descent. The post-match commentary largely centered not on the win of the French team, but the political implications of the match. Such booing has come to be used by ethnic-Arab French football fans to protest the racial, social and economic discrimination suffered by those not fortunate enough to be among the stars of Les Bleus. Booing France’s anthem has become a common tactic for drawing attention away from the largely black and Arab faces that defend France’s honor on the soccer field, and back to the communities from which they come in the decrepit housing projects surrounding the Stade de France and other suburbs of Paris.
But the French government pushed back– and hard. The Minister of Sports (the fact that there is a political office for sports is just incredible to me!) and Sarkozy (French President) were infuriated– and held several crisis meetings about the issue. Publicly, they were infuriated at the French Football Federation for not shutting down the match immediately. But Sarkozy was just getting started. Following the crisis meetings between the President and concerned cabinet members, Health and Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin grimly declared the decision had been taken that “any match during which our national anthem is whistled will be stopped immediately”.
So what does this have to do with OM and this cartoon at Hatem’s expense?
Given how politicized the National team is– I shouldn’t have been surprised when the cancellation of the clash between France’s largest clubs (in terms of fan base) was brought up in the National Assembly this week. But, given my American tendencies, of course I was.
The questions about the postponement of the OM-PSG match and the fan riots/mayhem were asked by Dominique Tian (representative from Bouches du Rhone, outside of Marseille) to Rama Yade (the Secretary of State for Sport).
Here are the questions:
“- Has the Football League fulfilled its role? The precautionary principle in health as public safety, should it not require the cancellation the match on Friday or no later than Saturday? Is the league’s rule which requires the confirmation of the 3rd player’s diagnosis effective? Is it not, Minister, the responsibility of government to enact a rule common to all sports federations in order to reach an acceptable time frame for cancellation of game? “
The latter responded by stating in part: “Because of the high risk of violence in an event such the OM-PSG game, the principle of caution should apply. So I asked the sports authorities to be able to identify, anticipate and prevent such situations in the future. Fans should expect further delays. “
This comic is able to pick at two of the French presses’ favorite targets– the politicians and Hatem Ben Arfa– by mocking the effectiveness and moodiness of both the Assembly members and Hatem….
I tend to be pretty protective of Hatem, but I love these particular artists’ cartoons. If you have a chance (and you speak a little French), check out their blog here. They have some other funny ones where Heinze is mocking the threat of Gignac….
Warning: Any racist comments on this post will be deleted and result in the comments section being locked. You’ve been warned!