Players' Views


Lilian Thuram

France


There are a lot of black players nowadays. I think that’s something that has a role in the struggle against racism because there are many kids who have black players as idols. [There’s] a big audience who put on their televisions and support their teams, see black players and get familiar with blacks. But it’s just a small part of society and society is formed by subconscious history. Black people have been given a negative image and we mustn’t hide that. It’s the way it is. We need to understand why. I think the France team winning the World Cup showed a very positive face, and some players became very well known from that team. People asked questions, and thought about why the French team looks like it does, and the history provides a simple answer. The legacies of colonisation and slavery means, today, we have a multicultural French national team. France is a multicultural country, and I think it is progress for a society if it starts to examine itself like that.

Some of the great advances in terms of integrating minorities have been made through sport. Whether it be in favour of women, or for black people. You only have to look at the history of sport in the United States, or at football in general. It’s an area where a black person has been able to gain entry into a sphere of life which may have been banned to them, [they’ve] shown their abilities and become accepted. That is something that passes on from sport and gets carried into society.

Because racism is about the respect someone has for someone else, about seeing others as you see yourself - as equals. That’s what racism is really about, and over there, there are too few whites who can look at a black person as an equal. It’s simple, that’s why racism exists. There is a perception of the other [person] that’s negative, that he’s not like you and cannot be like you. But I hope things will progress, and from generation to generation, with all the population movements that happen nowadays, people do get to know each other better. Information travels more quickly, so things are moving, little by little in the right direction.

I think the most dangerous aspect of racism is when somebody who suffers it internalises it. The person who absorbs it cannot fight it. He can’t go on to explain to anybody else. He gets locked up in resentment, and that’s dangerous.

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