Calling the French soccer team ‘African’ dismissed that its black players all grew up in the country and feel culturally French, argues Jimmy Quinn of National Review. France has long been a cultural melting pot, which stood out through soccer. In 1998, its World Cup-winning team was similarly diverse, birthing the term “black, blanc, beur” (black, white, Arab) to describe its players. Racists have long questioned these players’ loyalty to their country. Calling them ‘African’ mirrors this ethnocentric rhetoric. While racism is still an issue in France, it prides itself on its inclusive national identity that sees beyond skin color.
Celebrating the Africanness of the French national soccer team does not rob them of their Frenchness, believes Trevor Noah of The Daily Show. It is wrong to call them just French, they can be both, while celebrating the heritage of their ancestors. Doing so can happen in addition to being proud of their nationality. Voices that claim the players are just French need to remember that these players have become heroes now that they won the World Cup. People that French society doesn’t value so much have a harder time losing their ‘African’ labels. Calling the players ‘African' doesn't downplay how French they are.