Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bon Courage! a note on Les Bleues

This week's cover of France Football is a first for the squad - the headline "On Vous Aime!" has a lovely double resonance. It means "We love you!" and it's used by football fans - I have a Marseille scarf with this exact thing written on it. (Who writes that on a football scarf but the French!)

Used with regard the women's team it has a special meaning to at least this reader. It's a formal "we love you." I've been told that this can be very seductive when used in the right setting. The "vous" between people who would normally use "tu" with each other is a sign of affection and respect. Being on the receiving end of that statement is a real pleasure.

Of course, this love may be fleeting - I am not sure what national press pays sustained attention to its women's national football team outside of the World Cup. But this week, Les Bleues are basking in an attention they have never received, ever. And some of that attention is even going to they way they play.

But a lot of that attention is going to how they give French football fans a way to enjoy watching the national team, after last year's awful World Cup and subsequent months unpacking the racist, anti-immigrant attitudes of FFF executives. This team, as many women's teams do, represents a more wholesome and honest game.

It's a great year for Les Bleues, and the women really deserve it.

I haven't written much about them on this blog - but I've probably seen half the squad play (more?) attending Montpellier matches (including two against Lyon), and also at WPS games: Camille Abily is one of the smartest and most interesting players in the world. She is intense on the pitch. When she played for the LA Sol, she was as effective as Marta in putting points on the board.

Soon I'm jumping on the bandwagon to Monchengladbach to see them take on the USWNT, and when I'm there, I'll be thinking of the first time I saw many of them play, in Villeneuve-les-Maguelones, at Montpellier's wind-swept practice stadium not a mile in from the Mediterranean coast. Women's matches there are free, and the little stadium usually has a small but enthusiastic crowd. Teens, families and lots of old men sick of the men's game. They'll say things like, "Les nanas, elles savent jouer" and then launch into tirades about the crappy refereeing.

It's a really nice scene, and it is a world away from where these players are today.

I'm proud of the way the USWNT played against Brazil, and I'm really excited to see them take on Les Bleues. Beware!

Si on les aime, c'est parce-qu'elles aiment jouer!


  1. Great, I've been wanting an article about France's reception of the women. None of the stuff I see talks about how much attention each of these teams is receiving in their own country. (Any chance you can also find an interview with Erika about that stretcher moment??)

  2. Hi. I enjoyed reading your post and my comment is several days late. I enjoyed watching the USA play Japan today in a long, nail-biting matchup. In any event, I wanted to comment on your post about the French "on vous aime" headline. You mention using the formal "vous" instead of an informal "tu". However, that only applies if one is discussing a 2nd person singular (you-as in one person). If one is discussing "all of you" or "you all" (2nd person plural) then there is only one word that can be used, which is "vous". So, for this headline, there is only one way that the sentence would make sense "on vous aime" (we love you (plural)). One could not say "on t'aime" as that would mean just we love you (singular-one person). So, there isn't really a "special" sentiment shown by the "vous" in this case as it isn't about formal or informal but rather about singular vs. plural. In short, there's no such thing as a "formal we love you" as you state in your post, as there's only one way to say "you" when one is talking about more than one person, like a team, and that is "vous". However, I suppose any way one says "I love you" is nice to hear, n'est-ce pas? :)


Feedback? Let me know what you think. Just an FYI: all comments posted to this blog are recorded, whether I publish them or not. I do not publish generally hateful comments - whether they be directed at me or at players and teams or other readers. I appreciate reader feedback, especially from those whose contributions add nuance and complexity to the story.

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