Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema and France’s Second-Class Citizens

July 15, 2018

“Fascists love Kylian Mbappé because his exceptional talents and attitude confirm to their ideal of citizenship for black and brown people. The 19-year old kid, the new Pele, is not only the amazing forward who is now the second-most expensive transfer in the history of professional football and the third teenager ever to play in a World Cup final, he is also wonderful philanthropist who will donate his entire World Cup earnings to fund a charity that sets up sport activities for children with disabilities. Mbappé, and other black French football players such as Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté transcend race and class because they continue to embody these assumptions of what it means to be a good French citizen.” Africa is a Country

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The World Cup Final Is Upon Us. What Have We Learned?

July 15, 2018

“Here we are. The final match of the 2018 World Cup has almost arrived, and it has been as thrilling a tournament as I can remember. As Maximus, Russell Crowe’s character in ‘Gladiator,’ famously yelled, ‘Are you not entertained?’ Over the past four weeks, 32 teams from across the globe have come to Russia to play their hardest and to try their luck. One by one they have all gone home, often in heartbreak. There have been some shocking results, for sure. Germany didn’t even make it out of the first round; the formidable Spain was knocked out by Russia. Brazil looked invincible, and then Belgium brushed them aside. My home team, England, made it further than expected, before a gallant and tearful exit at the semifinal stage on Wednesday. Now it’s down to France against Croatia, on July 15.” NY Times


What Would a World Cup Win for France Mean in the French Caribbean?

July 15, 2018

“The symbols associated with France’s advance to the World Cup final have followed a familiar formula: the singing of Marseillaise and police breaking up over exuberant celebrations at the Champs Élysées. As for the players, their post-match celebrations however, are not what some would consider traditionally French. The victory playlist is Martinican zouk and Haitian kompa, a reminder that French can mean many things. In a viral video doing the rounds, Presnel Kimpembe, whose mother is from Haiti, organizes the music. Apart from Kimpembe, two other players in the 2018 World Cup squad, have strong connections to the French Caribbean.” Africa is a Country


World Cup 2018: How Gareth Southgate’s tactical immaturity cost England their shot at the final

July 13, 2018


“For all the celebration of this new-look England side, Wednesday night’s 2-1 semi-final defeat by Croatia was characterised by an old failing: a refusal to adjust tactics to nullify the strength of the opposition and, more specifically, an insistence upon leaving two men upfront while being overrun in midfield. England started excellently, but their tactical inflexibility cost them a place in Sunday’s final. Gareth Southgate’s highly unusual 3-3-2-2 formation is essentially defined by two major features, which both contributed to England’s impressive first half performance.” Independent – Michael Cox


Whose World Cup Is This?

July 13, 2018

“Football might not be coming home, but this should be Harry Kane’s World Cup. After a few years dominating the Premier League, the 24-year-old showed the wider world why we’re all freaking about a guy who looks like an apprentice magistrate from Bleak House and speaks like his mouth is filled with marbles covered in peanut butter. Kane’s six goals are two more than anyone else in the tournament, and even if you add assists to everyone else’s tallies, Kane has still produced more than all of his competitors. The reemergence of the England national team as something close to a world soccer power will likely go down as one of the defining stories of the 2018 World Cup, and it’s Kane who got them there: He wore the captain’s armband for all five games he played in, and he won the Man of the Match award in three.” The Ringer


Luka Modric’s Croatia Success Story Comes With Complications

July 13, 2018

“There is an image of Luka Modric that sums up everything he has meant to Croatia in this World Cup. He had missed a penalty against Denmark in the round of 16, squandering the chance to win the game in extra time before a shootout. In the shootout, his penalty was poor, nervously prodded straight down the middle. Luckily for him and Croatia, Kasper Schmeichel had dived, and the ball had just enough curl on it to evade goalkeeper’s trailing leg. He returned to the center circle, lips pursed with relief, but as teammates congratulated him, his eyes barely registered them. He was in his own world, perhaps already looking ahead to the next challenge, perhaps aware that had he missed–he of all people, the leader of his nation–it would all have been over.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


World Cup 2018: A View from the Stands – Simon Kuper

July 13, 2018

“I’ve been staying in an Airbnb in a Soviet-era apartment block in Moscow to cover the World Cup, but my children back home in Paris are living the tournament more intensely than I am. Though I’m British and my wife is American, our children were born in Paris and identify uncomplicatedly as French. For France’s first few games, each of their gang of friends took turns to host a viewing party at home. Parents and kids would cram into somebody’s little apartment, cheer on France over helpings of pizza, then sing Beatles songs together and watch whichever match was up next. Our living room was left smeared with red-white-and-blue face-paint after all the children rolled on the floor to celebrate France’s goals.” NYBooks