Also related to the World Cup: as in 1998, the French team has become a symbol against the National Front and racism in Europe, in Counterpunch.
Thuram went on to say, “When we take to the field, we do so as Frenchmen. All of us. When people were celebrating our win, they were celebrating us as Frenchmen, not black men or white men. It doesn’t matter if we’re black or not, because we’re French. I’ve just got one thing to say to Jean Marie Le Pen. The French team are all very, very proud to be French. If he’s got a problem with us, that’s down to him but we are proud to represent this country. So Vive la France, but the true France. Not the France that he wants.” In addition, the immensely talented Henry has started an antiracist campaign called Stand Up Speak Up. Henry pushed his sponsor Nike to produce black and white intertwined armbands that demonstrate a commitment against racism. So far, they have sold more than five million. “That’s important in making the very real point that racism is a problem for everyone, a collective ailment,” Henry said to Time Magazine. “It shows that people of all colors, even adversaries on the pitch, are banding together in this, because we’re all suffering from it together.”
Henry’s campaign has resonance because Le Pen does not have the market cornered on racism in the sport. So-called fans, throwing banana peels and peanuts at star players of African descent, have plagued European soccer this past season. For much of the World Cup, such assaults did not occur. But before the June 27th game against Spain, the French coach, Raymond Domenech, said Spanish fans were “making monkey chants” as the French team left their bus. The incident evoked memories of an outrageous racist diatribe against Thierry Henry delivered by Spanish coach Luis Aragones to “inspire” his team before a match against France a couple years ago. When Franch defeated Spain last week, it was more just desserts for Aragones and another bitter pill for Le Pen.