With the events that have rocked the world of its football team, and with the event that soon will not occur, France can return to its favorite activity: saying everything and its opposite, and, above all, anything whatsoever.And that is as good a lesson in the very French art of ambivalence as you'll find anywhere. On the other end of the affective spectrum, Ribery's rather moving appearance on Téléfoot - "People will say anything." "We been terrible, we haven't sweat in our shirts like one should." "I am speaking from my heart, and we are hurting."
Above all else, France will heap the sum of its bitterness on its football players. Guilty, guilty of course. Of earning too much money to live and think like pigs, of being arrogant, evil, of being rebellious, and perhaps for being blacks, Muslims, and for coming from the projects. The whole country is doing poorly, and we have someone to blame. Our football players.
Sociologists, politicians, population experts, anachronistic panels, Chantal and Monique, all will be asked for their opinions, their expert words, they will be persuaded to derive from the tale of a football team the whys and wherefores of a country which obviously is looking for answers. A clash of civilizations, a spoiled generation, a team of thugs, and so forth and so on. We have Finkielkraut, one example among many who talk of playing like gentlemen...And good football players? France has emptied his bag, and seems ready for whatever. [See this Europe 1 interview with the conservative and controversial Finkielkraut, in which he speaks of Anelka as thug, and the team as the "spoiled generation". Finkielkraut is infamous for his anti-immigrant statements - among his inflammatory remarks, he called the French national team, "black, black, black" - a reference to the "black, blanc, beur" anthem for the postcolonial make-up of '98 side, which itself reappropriated the nationalist "blue, blanc, rouge" of the French flag.]
And we have the opposite, the contrarian brains who must swim against the current to register themselves as pro-Anelka, pro-Domenech, pro-propaganda. Don't jump on the bandwagon, sure, but then to take the defense of a weak, incompetent or...screw it. Today, with the World Cup in full swing, France will say anything. It is reduced to declaring that the dramas of its football team are much more entertaining than the coolest TV series. We console ourselves as we can. However, this posture, adopted by many supporters of L'Equipe de France in order to avoid losing face, puts its finger on something essential. At the moment, the France football team is actually performing. As the parody of itself, finally, that it should be. The team is making its own fireworks.
By dint of playing a poor game and refusing to explain it, the players and their coach gave instead a letter to the people, who leaped at the chance to talk about this something else, since it must to continue to talk about its football team no matter what. The ethics of its organization, its money matters, its social side – with so little to offer on the pitch, the team is scrutinized from all angles, every angle, in all its forms. Inevitably, this little game can’t be out-grown. Ours is like any football team in the world that has endured this treatment. Players will return today to face the press. Maybe, but everything works against them if they should turn back and focus on what they are supposed to do, which is no more and no less than to defend France on the football field.
There is still a game in this World Cup, but that fact is now incidental. Players of the French team are too busy looking for their traitor; the people of the federation are too busy looking for their parachute; the football world is too busy looking for its scapegoat, and the country, its sin. Reactions will not stop coming. Some will be violent, most will be stupid, and all will be out of proportion. As happens when France loses (Euro 2002, Henry's hand, etc..). As happens when France wins (1998, France black, blanc, buer etc.). France loses her head. France cannot lose, France cannot win, France does not understand football. Fortunately, though, the game goes on. - Simone Capelli-Welter, "La France du Foot" from So Foot.