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A Victory for Multicolored France

I did not let out a cry at every goal in front of my television. However, France’s soccer World Cup victory offers fascinating observations from social, political, and cultural points of view.

I have to admit I am far from passionate about soccer. I barely know the rules, and even in the schoolyard I would sullenly refuse to play. However, the recent World Cup won by the French team in Moscow reminded me of the only match I ever watched. It was another World Cup — this time in Seoul, in 2002. That day I found myself in the grandstand, invited by the South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, for the opening match played by France and Senegal.

The president was astonished to see that the French team had so many black players, and that several of the Senegalese players were white. Kim Dae-jung concluded that the French were a little bit African and that the Africans were somewhat French. He also considered that France would win hands down. (The final score was 1-0 to Senegal.) The same situation

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