The colour black; Race to the finish; The whitewash
The colour black
After France scored its fourth goal in the 2018 Fifa World Cup finals and it was certain that Luka Modric and his boys were a goner, former Croatian coach Igor Stimac said on Facebook: "Who exactly are we playing against in the finals?" Stimac was referring to the players of African origin. Delivering the Nelson Mandela address in Johannesburg, Barak Obama spoke about embracing diversity and its practical benefits. He brought up the French example: "...not all these folks look like Gauls to me, they are French, they are French." And when someone put out on Twitter that 16 of the 23 players were from immigrant families from African nations, Mr Bachchan tweeted: "That's it then Africa won..."
Race to the finish
Also among the 23 are Antoine Griezmann, who is of German and Portuguese descent; Alphonse Areola of Filipino origin; Olivier Giroud, who has Italian ancestors; Hugo Lloris and Lucas Hernandez, both with Spanish connections. But their names didn't come up. When South African comedian in the US, Trevor Noah, said of the French players, "You don't get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends," Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the US, took exception. He accused Noah of denying the players' Frenchness.
Had France lost, would the R word have come up? Most likely, no. Right from the time of the 1938 World Cup, the French national team has had players of African origin - Raoul Diagne, Michel Brusseaux. No surprise, given that the country has been on a colonising mission since the 16th century. Then why make an issue of it now? Because success and acclaim and power are in our minds a certain shade, a certain build, a certain accent, a certain texture. Noah responded to Araud thus: "When I'm saying they're African, I'm not trying to exclude them from their Frenchness but include them in my Africanness."