Friday, April 29, 2011

French national soccer team goes all reverse affirmative action and shit


Last week, Clemente discussed efforts in the NBA to "take the black out of the game" by cracking down on trash talking.

Well, across the pond in France, the national soccer (or "football" if you prefer) team has taken things to a whole 'nother level. According to a report from the website mediapart.fr, they have set a plan in motion to quite literally "take the black out of the game".  With approval from coach Laurent Blanc--which, appropriately enough, means "white"-- members of the French Football Federation's National Technical Board have signed off on a 30% quota on black and (predominantly Muslim) North African candidates for the national team coming out of the country's youth training academies.

As the report explains:
Members of the French Football Federation's National Technical Board, including the France team coach Laurent Blanc, have secretly approved a quota selection process to reduce the number of young black players, and those of North African origin, emerging from the country's youth training centres as potential candidates for the national team, Mediapart can reveal.

The plan, presented in November 2010, involves limiting the number of youngsters from black and Meghrebi African origin entering the selection process from training centres and academies as early as 12 and 13 years of age.
Gather round kiddies as I tell you a story. A lonnnnnng time ago, the sons and daughters of Jewish people who migrated to America at the turn of the 20th century were graduating from high school and going on to attend some of the most elite universities in the country. But the problem was that the Jews were taking up spots at these schools that used to belong to the old money WASPs. Obviously, this could not be allowed to continue.  So the universities devised quota schemes to limit the number of Jews and other "undesirable" ethnic groups that could be admitted. "Cornell, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Yale [...] had rigid quotas in place. In 1935 Yale accepted 76 applicants from a pool of 501. About 200 of those applicants were Jewish and only five got in," David Oshinsky writes in his book Polio: An American Story. The restrictions were made quite clear: "Never admit more than five Jews, take only two Italian Catholics, and take no blacks at all." Of course, things could have been worse for Jews around that time.

Mr. White
The French team's decision to enact quotas comes after the players' mutiny at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa which the black and Muslim team members were seen as the primary organizers of. In addition, concerns about the dual citizenship of the youth academy attendees are cited for the decision:
A report commissioned in 2010 by the DTN, which controls French football coaching policy, and which focused on the results at the INF coaching centre at Clairefontaine, concluded that too many players with dual nationality, or who can claim dual nationality, go on to join a foreign national team after being trained in France.
But coach Blanc has reportedly laid the racial aims of the policy bare--framing them in terms of a desire to foster a sense of shared "culture" and "history" on the team:
France national team coach Laurent Blanc said he was "favourable" for a change in the selection criteria for youth talent as of the age of 12 to 13 years in order to favour those who sources said he described as having "our culture, our history".
Them Africans, they just don't get us, our culture, our history. Thus, they agitate.

Blanc is also reported to have framed the decision in the biologistic language of racialism that should be familiar to American sports fans:
Mediapart has learnt that during a DTN meeting last year, Laurent Blanc suggested that a stereotype of player, which he reportedly described as "large, strong, powerful" needed to be changed. According to Mediapart's sources, he told the meeting of DTN board members: "And who are the large, strong, powerful? The blacks. That's the way it is. It is a current fact. God knows that in the training centres and football academies, there are lots."
As we've said before, Jimmy The Greek lives, and now he's speaking French. It's not that we don't like these players because they are black, the logic goes, it's that we don't like what they bring to the pitch as players, which is an unfortunate and immutable outcome of their biological makeup. Quoth Lyon training director, Rémi Garde:
It is not a question of colour, but a question of profile. We have always tried to recruit players who have a certain intelligence for the game. But you can be big, strong and intelligent. We'll listen to the messages from the DTN, but for the moment, we haven't yet discussed anything. 
You might notice that this line of reasoning recalls the ages old argument that whites are better suited for the quarterback position in American football thanks to their "innate intelligence," which is required to succeed there.

French politics are funny, and distinctly European. On the one hand, the country has a strong labor movement and an active left wing political scene that can usually garner a non-negligible percentage of the vote in national elections. On the other hand, out-and-out Fascists like the viciously anti-immigrant Jean-Marie Le Pen can capture nearly 20% of the presidential vote. The national team's decision to institute a quota policy must be seen in the context of broader debates in the country around the question of immigration from France's former colonies in Northern Africa and the country's rising Muslim presence.

For his part, Blanc has "reject[ed] these accusations which run contrary to his whole philosophy." Because, I mean, what the fuck else is he gonna do?
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Thanks to @scottdkessler for pointing me to this article.

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