Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Opinion: France’s Multicultural Football Team – A Symbol of Unity


France’s defense of their World Cup title ended in defeat on penalties against Argentina in a sensational final, leading some French players, including Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman, to suffer racist abuse on social media.

But even when France won the World Cup in 2018, debates still surrounded the national team regarding the origins of its players, especially those of African heritage.

Integration of Immigrants

In France, nationality is inseparable from the land. Being French is first and foremost linked to being born on French soil. Thus, having players representing France even if their parents were born and raised abroad is a non-issue to the vast majority of French people. Most players in the current national squad were born in various parts of France. They are therefore French in a traditional sense.

The people who like to point out that the French national team is mostly composed of descendants of immigrants do not do it for the same sets of reasons. Some are racists and ignorant and cannot understand that a French person could be Black. Some are just jealous of France’s immense success since 1998. But some do it to raise awareness regarding France’s colonial past.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Isabel Haugseng Johansen: The Talented Football Player and Supportive Partner

Michel Platini is one of many French players whose grandparents were immigrants

This was famously the case during Trevor Noah’s segment about France’s win at the World Cup 2018. “I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.”

If the intentions of The Daily Show presenter were good, his remarks were met with vitriol in France. Most French people, including ones with foreign backgrounds, thought it lacked understanding of French society and the long-standing integration of immigrants and their families.

Nicolas Batum, a player with the National Basketball Association in the US and French national team member, was one of the most vocal critics of Noah’s commentary. In a tweet, the former Charlotte Hornets player explained that his origins (his dad is from Cameroon) did not make him any less French.

‘Fully French’

Despite an obviously fraught relationship between Africa and France, one of the former colonial powers in the region, and some very obvious racism issues in the country, most children born in France from African parents feel French. They do not like being called “the Africans,” and they never deny their heritage.

Sons and daughters of immigrants regularly go to their parents’ native country on summer vacations, speak the language of their ancestors, and share in their African families’ deep cultural and emotional bonds. But by being mostly referred to by their origins or race, those people, myself included, feel stigmatized.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Still Dominating: The Unstoppable Blue Devils

As a Frenchman whose parents were born in Tunisia, the idea that I would not be fully French is ridiculous. When I go abroad, I always present myself as a French person if asked about my nationality.

I’m grateful to have been raised in a Tunisian home where Arabic and the culture of my ancestors were taught to me, but I spent the vast majority of my life in France. I was born in Paris and grew up in one of the Asian neighborhoods of the town. There I studied, played football, and met my friends who all have different backgrounds. I am a fully French person.

‘Our Idea of Unity’

I don’t think French national players, regardless of their roots, should have to justify their desire to play for the French national team, a country they were born and raised in – a country they learn how to play football in.

I also don’t think the origins of the players play down the immense amount of work done by the French football academies all around the country. Does French football take advantage of French colonial history? Of course, nobody is saying otherwise. But the players should not have to suffer that burden. Nor do the people of France, for whom this team is a symbol.

Since 1998, the French national team has become an extension of all of us because it always looks like us. Football is the place where our idea of unity, by way of our diversity, shines brightest – win or lose.


Q: Why is there a debate about the origins of the players in the French national team?
A: Some people raise this debate due to racism, ignorance, jealousy, or to highlight France’s colonial past.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Soccer Defensive Tactics Unveiled

Q: Are the French national team players fully French?
A: Yes, regardless of their roots, the players are fully French. They were born and raised in France and proudly represent the country.

Q: Why do some players feel stigmatized by being referred to by their origins or race?
A: Being continuously associated with their origins or race can make them feel singled out and not fully embraced as part of French society.


The French national football team’s multicultural composition is not a matter of contention within France. It is a reflection of the nation’s long-standing integration of immigrants and their families. The team represents the diversity of French society and serves as a symbol of unity for the people of France. Regardless of their heritage, the players are proud to be fully French and should not have to justify their desire to represent their country on the football field. Football showcases the unity that is achieved through embracing diversity, making the French national team a true representation of the French spirit.