In Summary
  • Of the 23 players in the French squad, 14 are of Arab or African descent including two of their final goals scorers — Paul Pogba's parents hailing from Guinea while Kylian Mbappe's parents are Cameroonian and Algerian.
  • However, after the final won 4-2 by France, former Croatian star and coach Igor Stimac caused a storm with a now deleted post to Facebook which asked: "Who exactly are we playing against in the finals," referring to players of African descent in the French squad.

PARIS

Former US President Barack Obama chose celebrations to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth to laud the benefits of diversity by holding up France's World Cup success by way of example.

When France won their first World Cup in 1998 on home soil much was made of their "Black-Blanc-Beur" (black-white-Arab) multi-racial mix and, once again, Les Bleus' multi-cultural heritage has not gone unnoticed with their second triumph, this time in Russia.

Obama noted in Johannesburg that embracing diversity "delivers practical benefits since it ensures that a society can draw upon the energy and skills of all... people."

"And if you doubt that, just ask the French football team that just won the World Cup — because not all these folks look like Gauls to me, they are French, they are French," he opined.

France's win over Croatia was the culmination of a campaign that saw coach Didier Deschamps, their skipper 20 years ago, draw on a phalanx of players of African heritage.

Of the 23 players in the French squad, 14 are of Arab or African descent including two of their final goals scorers — Paul Pogba's parents hailing from Guinea while Kylian Mbappe's parents are Cameroonian and Algerian.

However, after the final won 4-2 by France, former Croatian star and coach Igor Stimac caused a storm with a now deleted post to Facebook which asked: "Who exactly are we playing against in the finals," referring to players of African descent in the French squad.

He then elaborated to Turkish news agency Anadolu that "we are facing the French Republic and the African continent," hence 11 opponents drawn from a continent of around a billion people whereas "we are four million."

AFRICAN ORIGIN

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