Between the French soccer group and the far proper, three many years of assaults and responses | EUROtoday

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Marcus Thuram, Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé at Paul-Janes-Stadion, in Düsseldorf, June 16, 2024, the day before their match against Austria at Euro 2024.

We are in 1996 and the French group, not but world champions, is taking part in in a Euro in England. While she has simply certified for the semi-finals by holding off the Netherlands, one other opponent seems. From Gard, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founding father of the National Front, speaks on June 23 to evaluate “artificial to bring in players from abroad and call them the French team”and deplore that the majority of them “don't sing or ignore The Marseillaise ».

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It doesn't matter that all the members of the team were born in France – with the exception of Marcel Desailly, born in Ghana – and that The Marseillaise was not always sung by previous generations, particularly during the time of Michel Platini. The National Front (FN), which became the National Rally (RN) in 2018, which had until then kept its distance from the fields, took over the sporting field and inaugurated a series of attacks against a team deemed unrepresentative and supposedly less patriotic. .

From their hotel in a corner of the countryside wedged between Liverpool and Manchester, the Blues, surprised, concede. The FN president's outburst awakens wounds, like those of Guyanese Bernard Lama, who blurted out: “I did not ask to have ancestors deported into slavery. » Lilian Thuram, Marcus's father, detects the trap and refuses to ” promote “ to the far-right party. Also avoiding adding more, the coach, Aimé Jacquet, declares that the blue jersey is “very well defended”. So playful, Didier Deschamps fights back: Jean-Marie Le Pen “said, once again, anything”.

Twenty-eight years later, the current coach says he acted above all to protect his group. “I did it because we attacked the players and I was captain”, explained Didier Deschamps, Sunday June 16. This episode, however, marks the beginning of an era in which the French team will frequently be targeted by the far-right party because of what it represents, and sometimes led to speak out, as made Marcus Thuram and Kylian Mbappé in the run-up to the early legislative elections of June 30 and July 7. The first one called, on Saturday, “to fight on a daily basis so that the RN does not pass”the second declared himself, on Sunday, “against extremes, against ideas that divide”.

A “fascist party”

Six years after Euro 1996, Jean-Marie Le Pen reached the second spherical of the presidential election, triggering an enormous mobilization of civil society. Like many sports activities figures, the Blues are taking a stand. Then captain, Marcel Desailly remembers that “the strength of the French team is its multiracial side” and describes the National Front as “fascist party”.

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