It is no secret that the French soccer team has undergone a revolution in recent years. From the 1998 World Cup victory to the 2018 World Cup win, the team has seen a dramatic shift in its players and their backgrounds. While three players are completely French, the majority of the team is made up of players with roots in former colonies of France, as well as immigrants from other countries. This article will explore the history of French soccer and how immigration has shaped the team's success. In the early 1900s, France began to develop an academic system for training young soccer players.
This system was designed to recruit and train players from all backgrounds, including those from neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrants. According to Maymon, this narrative was politically expedient but it was actually immigration that “made French football better.”Many of these immigrants eventually settled in France and raised families there. In 1938, Raoul Diagne became the first black player to represent Les Bleus. He was born in French Guiana and was of Senegalese descent.
He was nicknamed “the black spider” due to his versatile defensive skills. Diagne played with the team at the 1938 World Cup alongside Larbi Benbarek, who was one of the first players of North African origin to play for the national team. In 2000, France won its second World Cup title in Belgium and the Netherlands. The team was led by FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane and included several players with roots in former colonies of France. This victory sparked a public outcry over the dismissal of Houllier and the departure of several players from the national team.
At this time, 36 percent of those surveyed in a French poll said they thought there were too many players of foreign origin on the national team. Today, five out of nine players with more than 100 games with France are of non-European origin. These include Florian Thauvin, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Pavard, Antoine Griezmann, and Dimitri Payet. Griezmann was named Player of the Tournament and also received the Golden Boot, in addition to being part of the tournament team. It is clear that immigration has had a major impact on French soccer. The influx of immigrants has allowed for a more diverse pool of talent and has helped create a more inclusive society.
As a result, France has been able to produce some of the best soccer players in the world.