In 1998, the French team won the World Cup and there was a burst of national euphoria as a result. The team of 1998 was composed of blancs, beurs, noirs – that is to say, whites, Arabs, blacks – and this was taken, briefly, as evidence of the success of France as a multicultural and multiethnic society. Huge crowds greeted the successful team as it paraded in the modern equivalent of a Roman triumph. Preposterous triviality could go no further.
Twelve years later, when the French team lost miserably in the same competition, the opposite sentiments were widely expressed, at least in the newspapers and on the air. The team was now predominantly black and Arab; anyone who knew France only through its national football team would place the country somewhere between North and Equatorial Africa.
One prominent white in the team, a spectacularly ugly and thuggish-looking man, so ill-educated that he could barely string a few words together, let alone a sentence, in his native language, had converted to Islam.
Another white in the squad, a blonde Breton who was notably better-educated than his colleagues, had to be excluded from the team because none of the others would co-operate with or pass the ball to him.
When the Marseillaise was played before a match started in which the French were to play, the team refused to sing it or accord it any respect.
He adds, shockingly:
it is perfectly normal for many Frenchmen not to know all the words
(Of course, Victor Lazlo had no business going to this joint while the Nazis were in town… )