Should France keep inviting African teams to Paris?

October 16, 2008

Tunisia fansYou can understand why the French rarely invite any of their former colonies over for so-called friendly internationals. On Tuesday night they again faced a barrage of abuse in their own backyard, with the vast majority of a sell-out crowd at Stade de France coming to support Tunisia against Les Bleus.

When Algeria played at the Stade de France in 2001, the game was eventually called off midway through the second half after Algerian supporters invaded the pitch. The match against Morocco last year earned notoriety after the jeering during the singing of La Marseillaise.

For the north Africans it remains a singular honour to be invited to play in France and Tunisia made little of securing a berth in the last phase of Africa’s World Cup qualifying last Saturday in the wake of all the excitement of the trip to Paris.

Of all their former colonies, France have only ever hosted Algeria, Cameroon, Morocco and Tunisia in the Stade de France. And it took decades before they sent an invitation. The Ivory Coast played a game in Montpellier but Senegal, who beat France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, still await an invitation, even though they are one of the few countries in Africa where French influence still pervades.

Mali, fast emerging as one of African football’s new powerhouses, had to do with a match against France’s B team last year.

Meanwhile, South Africa, who have only been back from apartheid-enforced isolation for some 16 years and whose tenuous ties to France come in the form of Huguenot migration four centuries ago, have had three internationals since 1997.

You wonder whether any other African countries will ever get the opportunity of playing at the Stade de France if it continues to be such an outlet for the frustrations of disaffected Franco-African youth. Still, the ticket sales are good.

Mark Gleeson covers African football for Reuters

PHOTO: Tunisian supporters cheer during their international friendly against France in Paris, October 14, 2008. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

14 comments

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erm..

is it just me or is this an utterly racist article?

Posted by Haf | Report as abusive

Haf,

How is this racist? It is a fact that the French national team has to put of with a lot of jeering each time they play against a team from Africa. As a French national I’m ashamed that the players that represent my country have to put up with that. Imagine the uproar if French people started booing the national anthems of former colonies. Everyone would be up in arms.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

It ain’t a racist article, emotions still run high because of the French injustice towards most of its ex colonies. A lot of bad blood,robbing and blatant complacency in genocide has marred this fragile relationship.

Posted by Nduka Tolefe | Report as abusive

Ben,

The French anthem was booed when France played against Serbia, Spain and Israel. It is even booed at every Derby that involves the Bastia team. Why is this only an issue when it comes to African teams?

Besides, the people who booed were French. They might be of African descent, but they are French citizens. I hope you realise that Africans cannot afford to travel all the way to attend a friendly match.

This article is racist.

Posted by Haf | Report as abusive

Quote from the article:
“For the north Africans it remains a singular honour to be invited to play in France”

How is that not racist?

Mark Gleeson, you failed!

Posted by African | Report as abusive

Oh oh, I got one.

If the U.S. was invited to play a friendly game in England, and the American supporters started making fun of the Brits\’ bad teeth and poor hygiene…You know, just to pick on them, that\’s what soccer/football fans do. It would be because the U.S. is a former British colony.

Mark, stick to reporting and spare us your hateful comments please.

Posted by American | Report as abusive

I dont find the article racist at all. It is an interesting examination of the facts. The anthem, at a France home game, was booed. It is the fact it was a home game that makes this relevant.
It is also not racist to say North African nations are proud to be invited to play against France. Any nation that does not play European opposition regularly would be proud to play against France. Teams like Jamaica, Australia and yes the US would be proud to be invited to play at Stade de France, or Wembley or the Bernabeu.
The historical connections between North Africa and France only make for a bigger match, and therefore bigger pride.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Problem is, France does not even have a National team, just an international one, Henry, Benzema, Nasri, Vieira..name them. So how about an Internatinal Anthem in these games..

Posted by warigia | Report as abusive

Quote: “It is also not racist to say North African nations are proud to be invited to play against France. Any nation that does not play European opposition regularly would be proud to play against France. Teams like Jamaica, Australia and yes the US would be proud to be invited to play at Stade de France, or Wembley or the Bernabeu.”

Proud? yes. An honor to be invited has a different meaning! Especially when YOU associate it with the fact that these countries are former colonies.

So Brazil doesn’t “play European opposition regularly”. It would be “a singular honour to be invited to play in Portugal”???

I have to say I am glad to see you choose diferrent words in your reply than the ones you used in the article.

Posted by African | Report as abusive

Im not the Mark who wrote the article. I think most Brazilians would say a game against Portugal was a big encounter.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Wow, much emotion and passion wrapped up in this one. http://www.soccershop.com

Posted by karen | Report as abusive

hey it is just a soccer game!! those poeple that booed france would sing the french anthem if it played any other team. politicians find a way to screw things up

Posted by bilal | Report as abusive

This is very interesting, how did you guys come to the conclusion that the people who boooed were from previously colonilized North African nations?? I live in the states, and many people here booo whenever I mention the word France, (I don’t agree with that) I can also see that the stad. was full with Israeli flags, I wonder maybe the booos came from the supporters of the other teams!!

Posted by Lina | Report as abusive

It is normal for supporters to boo any of the sides playing in a soccer game. i have seen where supporters boo their own teams, especially when their team is not playing well or a player is not playing well in a game.It is not racism for French born supporters to support their countries of birth in a soccer game. Another angle to it – when will the French International team ever come to play friendlies in Africa? or are our pitches too local for the French players? Atleast most of the players are French – born Africans.

Posted by Edwin Adakole Inegedu | Report as abusive