17 October 2008

France, Friendlies, and The National Anthem

There is one thing that is certain when the President of your country and then the Ministers start jumping up and down declaring that they are going to cancel soccer friendlies if the opposing fans boo the National Anthem, there are serious domestic political issues that need a diversion.

On Tuesday, France played a soccer friendly against Tunisia. Tunisia is a former French colony so there is a long history there and it just so happens that there are plenty of Tunisians who are living in France and perhaps quite a few who have even become citizens but still support the land of their birth.

It has been reported that at the match the number of Tunisian supporters outnumbered those of the French side. So, when "La Marseillaise" was played a loud chorus of boos rang out around the stadium. It seems that some are saying this is an insult to France.

The reaction, or perhaps over-reaction, has seen the President denounce the booing as "scandalous incidents" at the Stade de France. The Sports Minister is jumping up and down on the spot saying any future friendly where the fans booed would be called off. The Interior Minister, not wanting to miss out obviously, wants to deploy cameras in an attempt to video the culprits in action.

Platini, a French football legend, former captain of France, and current president of UEFA, seems to be the only one making any sense on this when he called the whole thing absurd.

I wonder what's next. If someone whistles at the President's wife then the whistler gets the guillotine?

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