The stage was set for a World Cup finale between two powerhouse nations, both with an incredibly talented cache of black players.
France, with the extra padding of NGolo Kante on the field, and an overrated English team that was overperforming. But like any team made of Tottenham players, theyre always sure to disappoint you in the end.
So, its France, against Croatia. Croatia, on one hand, is a republic thats governed under a parliamentary system and a developed country with an impressive standard of living. The country ranks top 20 most popular tourist destination in the world. It is also a small country with just over 4 million people.
Dont let that fool you though, that Croatian team, while it may look nothing like Frances, has some of the best players in the world. But ask many Africans, or Africans in the diaspora, or African Americans or just straight black people who they will be rooting for to win come Sunday, it will be unequivocally France.
The rationale behind supporting the French national team to win the World Cup makes a lot of sense. A number of players on that French squad are either first or second-generation immigrants plenty with friends and relatives on the African continent. Bleacher Report traced their roots back to different countries in Africa:
Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon, Steve Mandanda in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Paul Pogba’s parents are from Guinea, N’Golo Kante’s from Mali. Blaise Matuidi’s parents are from Angola and came to France via DR Congo. Kylian Mbappe has an Algerian mother and a Cameroonian father. Presnel Kimpembe and Steven Nzonzi’s fathers are Congolese. Corentin Tolisso’s dad is from Togo. The list goes on.
Outside of the African teams, who have now been eliminated, France still has the blackest squad by far. What is also notable is that this French team is as black as it is talented.
Kylian Mbappe already has three World Cup goals to his name at age 19. Playing every single game at the World Cup for the French national team is not an easy feat, with the history and expectations that come with wearing the blue and white jersey. If he keeps going at this pace, and consistently performs at a high level for the next decade, he could end up playing in three more. Most soccer players dont even get called up for a friendly match. And needless to say, hes a mainstay in Paris Uniteds starting lineup.
In a sport dominated by strength, power, and height, NGolo Kante is a 56 giant that will walk into any European team after the World Cup. Paul Pogba is the worlds most valuable soccer clubs most valuable player. Samuel Umtiti plays at Barcelona. Nzonzi plays in Sevilla. Many of those players play in Europes top clubs that a lot of black people are supportive of. Black people, as it should be, love to see other black people succeed. And this French team deserves a lot of credit for reaching the World Cup final. But black also needs to speak up about Frances colonial past.
We need to admit that France has a hand in current dire states that many black nations are in. Its a brutalist experiment that has left long-lasting effects on the psyche of citizens, many of whom had to fight and die to gain independence from France. When youth unemployment, decaying infrastructure or and corrupt leadership get tackled in Africa, we throw money and programs at it, but no one is talking about history. Many Africans dont even know that history and how its affecting current society. To know it, understand and acknowledge it is to seek accountability. And seeking accountability means being at loggerheads with an ally that still wields a tremendous amount of influence in French-speaking countries.