Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Silence, Bande de Cretins!

La Marseillaise is one of the most recognizable songs in the world, and is generally considered to be the greatest national anthem ever written. The lyrics recount the struggle during the French Revolution, and are filled with vivid imagery such "May a tainted blood irrigate our furrows."

Now, we French take the sanctity of the French language very seriously, even enacting a law (Loi Toubon) to protect against the infiltration of non-French words into French society. This goes back as far as 1635, when Cardinal Richelieu established L'Academie Francaise to act as the official authority on all matters concerning the French language. So what does all this mean?

Like I said, we take the French language very seriously.

Yesterday (Tuesday, October 14th), France played against Tunisia in a friendly. Although the match was played in Paris at the Stade de France, many of the 60,000 spectators were Tunisian. Given the history of French colonialism, this is not surprising. However, given the context of that history, it should not have come as a shock that many of the Tunisian supporters whistled during the playing of La Marseillaise.

In France, as in much of Europe, whistling is extremely derogatory and is considered even more offensive than booing. This has happened before, against Algeria in October 2001 and against Morocco in November 2007 (both friendlies, and both against former French colonies).

This time, the opposing supporters took things even further, whistling at Hatem ben Arfa as he was announced. Ben Arfa was born in France to Tunisian parents, and the Tunisian Football Association spent a great deal of time trying to convince him to play for that national team, which was obviously unsuccessful. While Domenech stated that he was "moved" by the beautiful singing of both national anthems by several franco-tunisian women, he claimed that he simply ignored the negative energy from the crowd.

The rest of France, however, did not. Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon called the whistling "insulting for France and the French players", while Bernard Laporte, the ministerial secretary of state for sport, was quoted as saying that France should no longer play friendly matches against their North African former colonies. After meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, French Sports Minister Roslyne Bachelot stated that in the future any matches at which La Marseillaise was interrupted by poor sportsmanship would be stopped immediately. She went on to state:

"Government members will immediately leave the arena where our national anthem has been whistled. When whistling of our antional anthem happens, all friendly games with the country concerned will be suspended for a period yet to be determined by the federation president."
Unfortunately, Jean-Marie Le Pen also felt the need to open up his yap. The far-right (way far right) mouthpiece declared that the whistling of La Marseillaise was a sign that the multicultural experiment of France is not working.

I've discussed before the appelation of the national team as "Les Blacks, Blancs, et Beurs", a concept of which Le Pen is not fond. Incidents such as those of yesterday simply give this asinine man even more ammunition for his National Front party ramblings.

Certainly, the history of French colonialism in North Africa is a painful one (on both sides), and it is understandable that resentment against racism (both state-supported and individual) is present.

But really, how can you boo the greatest national anthem ever written?

To recap:

If you are English and boo Cashley Cole, that is acceptable.

If you are anyone and you disrespect La Marseillaise, we will hunt you down and beat you with a baguette. Or maybe we'll just take our ball and go home.


Goat said...

When reached for a comment, Tunisian national team player Joshdel Howardzi responded "L Marseillaise is going on right now and I don't celebrate that shit. I'm Tunisian." We can only hope that Domenech publishes all the racist emails he gets on his blog.

Andrew said...

I read "A Savage War of Peace" a few years back. Seems an apt description for the current state of Les Bleus.

As for Ben Arfa: good decision. Why anyone with skill would choose Tunisia over France - especially when he knows he can make the first team - is beyond me.

Bigus Dickus said...

Everyone nows that the greatest anthem ever is 'tub thumping' by Chumbawanba.

Bigus Dickus said...


Matt said...

I guess France was spoiled by other nations singing La Marseillaise for them.

King Garry I Of Swandanavia said...

@ Andrew, Re: Ben Arfa.

I assume its the way he identifies himself nationally.
Its not quite the same story, but were I good enough of a player to be considered for national sides, I'd have a choice of both Irish sides, Scotland and England (not entirely certain what happened to Wales. Family discrimination?). Given the choice though, I'd pick Scotland any day of this week or any other you care to mention. Despite having a mother born in England to Northern Irish parents, and a father born to Republican Irish parents in Glasgow's East End, I always felt Scottish.

This may be because a lot of both sides of my family are in Scotland now, or that I was born there, but I was raised primarily in England, and have an English accent. And yet, I still tell people I'm Scottish, because I am.

I can see Ben Arfa's point of view. The England team(lets face it) is better than Scotland. France is better than Tunisia. Doesnt matter if you're good enough, could you play for a national team other than that which you feel is your home team?

The NY Kid said...

It's also considered improper to just randomly sing La Marseillaise (e.g. just walking down the street), as it is undignified (for the song, not the singer).

The NY Kid said...

@King Garry - I have always secretly wondered if I could make the Haitian national team.

King Garry I Of Swandanavia said...

@NY Kid

What's to lose?

Go for centre forward, score a hatful of goals and have the most beautiful women in Haiti bestwed upon you in honour of your mere prescence.

Andrew said...

"Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, 'When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?'"

The NY Kid said...

Sadly, I have not been to Haiti in over 20 years due to the violence. I don't think the possibility of making the team is enough to justify risking kidnapping or burning to death in a tire.