French insults of World Cup team seen through racial and religious prism

Impostors. Arrogant. Money-hungry idiots. The insults aimed at France’s World Cup team have
been venomous following its drama-plagued early elimination from the international tournament.
Passionate hand-wringing at the humiliating fall of the team that won the 1998 World Cup can
be expected from dismayed French fans. But some worry that the tirades against the ethnically-
and religiously-mixed team are being too often seen through a racial prism, even if that’s not the
intent.
Members of the largely black team have been compared to “gang bosses” and “hoodlums” and
said to be disrespectful of France — terms often used to slur residents of the country’s minority-
and immigrant-filled suburban ghettoes. As a result, many say that such commentary sparks
racial hatred. The current attacks against the team can “encourage prejudice,” and “liberate racist
speech,” said the general director of the advocacy group SOS Racism, Guillaume Ayne.
On French radio, philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said the players represent the “spirit of the cité,”
a term used for ghettoized housing projects, which he said are “devouring” French society.