Yes, Les Bleus went down today, as many predicted. As I noted, despite pundits who had them as group favorites, if they even got out of the group it would be amazing. Why? Because they were a damaged side, and have been for years under the aegis of Raymond Dumbenech.
So they’re out, and the joy has been unrestrained. Why? Some say arrogance toward “little” countries. But was there really? It seems like they were too busy fighting among themselves to show any arrogance to anyone.
The World Cup is about deeply felt allegiances to countries, sometimes not even birth countries of many of us. And for the record, I think it’s churlish and mean-spirited to take such pleasure in a nation going out.
Les Bleus, the side that I love, has a great many problems, woes that have been documented ad infinitum. It would seem they have enough to worry about. I had the immense pleasure of being at the match, in Montpellier’s Stade de la Mosson, at which Zidane returned to the side. It was electric, and galvanized a nation and a football side. And Zizou almost repaid that favor, up until he just missed a header that was saved by Buffon, then made a header, into the chest of Marco Materazzi. It could well be argued that it’s been downhill since then. But maybe, just maybe, without anything to rally around, the deficiencies in the coaching staff and federation became all that much more apparent. And yet, the joy in their misery is unrestrained.
—“It serves them right because of the handball.” It’s up to the referee to make that call. He didn’t. Are they supposed to give the goal back, stop play and say “Hey, we didn’t really score that goal legally, so take it off the books.” Do you really think that any player would do that?
–One commenter here, Dave, said that Les Bleus need “real Frenchmen,” rather than relying on the colonies to win. Ramzi made a subtle, but eloquent reply that mentioned many of the French players from colonies who weren’t at this WC, but who energized the 2006 effort. Zidane was born in Marseille, but his parents are Algerian. Hmmm. Here’s the colony-free starting XI from today, along with their birthplaces:
Djibril Cisse: Arles, France
Hugo Lloris: Nice, France
Franck Ribery: Boulogne Sur-Mer, France
Andre Gignac: Martigues, France
Gael Clichy: Toulouse, France
William Gallas: Asnieres Sur-Seine, France
Sebastien Squillaci: Toulon, France
Alou Diarra: Villepinte, France
Alou Diaby: Aubervilliers, France
Yoann Gourcuff: Ploemeur, France
Bacary Sagna: Bourgogne, France
All “real” Frenchmen, and all were mostly crap. Now assuredly, Patrick Vieira was born in Dakar, Senegal, but he was left off the squad. Perhaps some more of them there colonists would have served Les Bleus well. Florent Malouda, the bright spot in the second half as a substitute, was born in French Guyana. One of those colonists, again. Sidney Govou came in as well, and he’s from France, in Le-Puy-en-Velay. And of course Thierry Henry is from Les Ulis, France. They both sucked.
Which means what?
Fact of the matter is that when a side loses confidence in its coach, it is doomed. And the players have not had confidence in Domenech for some time now. So they lashed out, against him, against the France football federation, against anybody that they could, up to and including sullying the colors that should run from their veins when they bleed. And they are out. They played down, to a level far, far below the talent that they could offer up. And they are going home, in ignominy, with tails between legs, flying in second-class seats, courtesy of the FFF.
It’s awful. For the nation, for the players, for the Federation, for the fans. Alexi Lalas plumbed the depths of his innate stupidity by saying of the implosion, “Well, they’re French, so it’s funny.”
I hope that everyone’s countries do well this World Cup, whichever ones remain. And I hope that people will have the heart and kindness not to take such joy in people’s hearts being ripped out. It was bad enough that they lost. That they lost in such a manner, with everything falling down around them, makes the insult and injury that much more painful.
Is scorn really necessary, as well?