French Ambassador is annoyed at Trevor Noah.

When France won the WC; the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah commented that "Africa Won the World Cup"..

The French Ambassador to the US sent him a letter saying in essence "thats racist".:rolleyes:

The french ambassador should lighten up. A comedian made a racist joke but his country won the World Cup he should focus on the latter.

He says the win is a testament to the diversity of French culture, while at the same time denying that diversity by saying they’re just French, not anything else.

I can’t even figure out why the ambassador (or whoever told him to say something) even thinks that it’s part of his job to chastise a private citizen, let along a private citizen of another country. And to chastise an African migrant with a public voice when he’s been talking about how France has problems with African migrants?

This whole thing seems ill-advised. And over a joke about a sport game. Sure, enjoy the victory as a private citizen. But it’s really not that important for the government. It’s not like one of the roles of government is to win sports games. Focus on the actual rational interests of France.

No Noah didn’t. The French take advantage of their Imperialist past to poach players from Africa.

Optics.

I think this is exactly an Ambassador’s job. Make your country look as good as possible.

They are also playing a lousy white guy up front (Giroud) instead of an Algerian origin super striker (Benzema) because the latter spoke up against racism.

Damn, that’s a hell of a rebuttal!

Relevant documentary


France has a national principle of saying that a frenchman is a frenchman is a frenchman. Your background or colour is irrelevant because everyone is equally French.
That’s what annoyed the Ambassador I guess as he thought Noah was (mildly jokingly) seeming to diminish their Frenchness as he highlighted their African backgrounds. (and I believe there are only three of the squad that weren’t actually born in France)

As the ambassador said

which, though a little touchy, and certainly not what Noah wanted to imply, is a concept that matters when France is in constant battle with far-right politics.

Personally I don’t see what relevance heritage has when selecting a team of French citizens. Are you a citizen? yep. Are you good at football? yep. Are you a positive influence on the team? yep…errr, put your hand down Cantona.

In Benzema’s case, it’s a bit more complicated than that :

There’s also the whole “Zahia affair” involving an underage prostitute, but the charges were later dropped.

Still, great player as he is, his behaviour off-pitch is what did him in. There was a time when gifted players were sort of “untouchable”. Boys will be boys, you know. It’s ok for them to be a bit wild as long as they deliver during the matches. This is changing, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

Exactly. There is deliberately no race, ethnicity or skin colour question on the French census. On the one hand it does help promote the (somewhat idealistic) notion that all Frenchmen are equal regardless, on the other hand it makes it hard to quantify or punish racial discrimination & segregation. One coin, two sides.

Speaking as a Frenchman, I understand where the Ambassador is coming from even though I think his letter was way too “snooty Frenchman” stylistically speaking, if y’all catch my drift. Whereas in the US people like to point out and often celebrate their specific “otherness” (be it by dressing in green on Paddy’s Day even though y’all are emphatically not Irish, or claiming 1/16th Cherokee etc…), in France we do try to erase those distinctions, with mixed results. And it’s not just about race or skin colour, either - some 50, 100 years ago there was anti-Breton sentiment, anti-Auvergnat sentiment in the north, the Southerners can’t stand Northerners, nobody can stand Parisians, Corsicans are their own thing entirely etc… let’s just say we’ve had a long time to polish our stupid tribalisms to a mirror shine, and the government has been trying to cool that shit down for just as long. So that’s one thing.
The other thing is that, well, we’re *really *fucking racist as a nation. And our more open racists are always agitating the “surely they can’t really be French, *these *people” banner. Since they’re gaining ground these days, as they do everywhere it seems, the government putting out an official statement that “yes, they fucking well ARE” is an important political statement to make. And on the flipside it also sends an inclusive message to non-white folks - even though that one’s closer to bullshit because in practice they’re very much second-class citizens and they know it - in fact it’s *because *they know it pretty hard that we try and tell 'em they aren’t :rolleyes:. That part’s probably more familiar to y’all… :frowning:

Now, I’ll happily and readily agree with Trevor that the average Frenchman celebrate the Frenchness of black athletes (or viral YouTube black heroes) when they win, not so much when they lose - as far as I can remember, “Yannick Noah is a half-white Frenchman whenever he wins Roland Garros, a half-negro from Cameroon when he loses” (I forget who quipped that back in the 80s - I think it was Coluche ?). The same was very much true of Zidane - he was a poor kid from Marseilles who made it with talent and a dream whenever he played and won ; but whenever he faced a scandal people and newspapers were quick to remember his Algerian background. And yes, it’s hypocritical to say the least. But the point is, that’s not really the point.

Exactly.
And as you and the ambassador say, most of them were born and raised in France. So what’s African about them, when it gets right down to it ? The point is : if we didn’t call Sarkozy Hungarian, we shouldn’t say Kylian Mbappé is African either.

I… don’t believe you quite grok what soccer represents in France (or most anywhere outside the US, really :D). I don’t give a shit about it myself, but to many people “le foot” is more important than life itself, nevermind politics.

I think the ambassador should have been more…well, diplomatic about it but I agree with the sentiment.

Are you African just because you’re black, even if you were born and raised in France? Outside of US, most people who would answer yes are racists.

You miss the point. The Africans playing for France come directly or indirectly from former French colonies in Africa…not random African nations. Its France (and Holland) taking advantage of their colonial past without acknowledging it. That’s what is racist.

The *Frenchmen *playing for France you mean?

I don’t think that’s an adequate interpretation at all. It was never an objective of colonialism to bring people from the colonies into Europe. It was from the start a completely unintended, unwanted even, consequence.

And that’s what’s racist.

French speaking citizens of former colonies going to France, and some of their children turning out to be good at some sport or other is not.

Also, it’s not just that they’re black; off the top of my head two of the team were direct immigrants but a larger contingent had parents who were immigrants. This is not just about skin color that may indicate African ancestry a few generations back; it’s about recent immigration.

That said, I also take the point that referring to black French citizens as ‘African’ plays into the hands of the far right, and that they certainly don’t need any help.

All of their final goalscorers were children of immigrants except Mandzukic, which was an own goal.
Yes, even Grizemann, who is the son of a German father and Portuguese mother.

Didn’t Noah do the same thing in reverse, though? I don’t watch his show terribly often, but I don’t get the sense that he ever mentioned any of these players before. If they’d lost this never would have come up; but once they won the World Cup, he was all “hooray, Africa!”

Poach implies they stole what what rightfully Africa’s. People don’t belong to a continent they represent the country in which they live.