Thursday, June 24, 2010


What's wrong with France's reaction to its football debacle at the World Cup? Dan Drezner will tell you.

And what's wrong with France according to Gen. Stanley McChrystal? Its restaurants are "too Gucci," its ministers "too gay," and, on the whole, the country is just too civilized for the former "Boss" of "Team America." McChrystal's background is in Special Forces, guys who like to style themselves "snake-eaters," so you can imagine they might find all the forks and knives on a Parisian table a little bewildering. So what does Team America do when stuck in Paris because volcanic ash has grounded all flights? It celebrates the general's wedding anniversary at Kitty O'Shea's Irish Bar.

So, to Dan Drezner I say, to every Alain Finkielkraut there is a Stanley McChrystal. France should not be reduced to its overwrought intellectuals, nor America to its uncouth warriors.

As for the Steven Erlanger article to which Drezner refers, which cites Fadela Amara's complaint that the vituperation directed against the French team, largely composed of blacks, is "opening a superhighway for the National Front," let's not forget that much of the anger is directed at both the coach, Domenech, who is white (as well as "the most detested man in France"), and the French Football Federation, which is dominated by (near-)dead white males. Of course the new coach is named Laurent Blanc, perhaps a sign that the backlash has already set in, and on France2 last night it was suggested that Blanc might build his new team around Yann Gourcuff, the white Adonis who may or may not have been ostracized by his teammates.


Scaramanga said...

I know you're a "sports curmudgeon," but it's Yoann, not Yann, Gourcuff. And you're right in pointing that Erlanger's piece is perhaps stretched a little bits. There ARE racial overtones in the criticism towards the French team, but it looks like the divide is mainly a social one. Some of the French players are blamed for having a "caillera" background: they are presumed to be individualistic, greedy and lacking respect. Franck Ribéry (a white guy) is among them, and he is (supposedly) the one who sidelined Gourcuff.
Besides, a report from Le Monde in the banlieues, for the last game against South Africa, suggests people there didn't appreciate Nicolas Anelka's outburst.
Anyway I think everyone needs to calm down a bit and get back to the football: we need a proper central pairing, a good center-forward and team spirit. Daniel Drezner has a point in this: it's only football (which is much more than a matter of life and death, as Bill Shankly used to say, but that's another discussion).

Anonymous said...

There is an absolutely fantastic take on the events posted at SoFoot. I'd suggest Drezner gives it a read, it's far more insightful and gives a picture of the true French reaction.

Anonymous said...

Finkielkraut reacted in a clearly racist way, which is not new since he'd done it before, in the same terms. The last time, there'd been a storm of scandal. This time, many journalists repeated the theory - despite evidence to the contrary.
That's what striking in my opinion, and would justify the piece.
However, few French people pay attention to Alain Finkielkraut's "truths about football" and even though his ideas have been making the rounds on the networks and stations, I don't see it taking hold (except with those who already support the FN.)
So, the news here is that nowadays French journalists can repeat drivel and not sense it's racist, whereas 4 years ago they could.