Mbappé, son of Banlieu vs Marine Le Pen

Mbappé, son of Banlieu vs Marine Le Pen
Mbappé, son of Banlieu vs Marine Le Pen

“Bondy, city of possibilities.” In Bondy, a western suburb of Paris, Department 93, Siena-Saint-Denis, There is the highest proportion of immigrants and the highest poverty rate in France. It is the “banlieu”, as the Parisian periphery is called, a colloquial inversion of “lieu du ban” (literally: “place of banishment”). The periphery that erupted in violence in 2005. “Scum,” the then Minister of the Interior of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, called those young people, shortly after elected president of the nation. Two stars of the French team that debuts today against Austria in the European Championship in Germany (William Saliba and Randal Kolo Muani) grew up there. But there in Bondy, Kylian Mbappé was also born in that “place of exile”. His image accompanies the mural graffiti with the phrase with which we began this article: “Bondy, city of possibilities.”

World champion with the France team in Russia 2018, At just 19 years old, and runner-up in the following Qatar Cup 2022 (he scored three goals in the final against Argentina), Mbappé, a black man with a Cameroonian father and an Algerian mother, “politicized” the Euro Cup, some say, because yesterday, Sunday, A day before the debut, he told the young people of his country that France is living in “unprecedented and crucial times” and asked them in a clearly passionate and personal tone to make “the right decision” and to vote “against the extremes.” It was a clear message to vote against Marine Le Pen, leader of an extreme right that softened over the years, to differentiate itself from Jean Marie Le Pen. His father, more radical, led the National Front that questioned the team that ended up winning the 1998 World Cup. I didn’t question her about her performance. But because she had too many children of immigrants, some of whom “didn’t even” know how to sing La Marseillaise.

It was the multicolored team led by captain Didier Deschamps, today coach in Mbappé’s team. It was the team, as the press baptized it, “Black-Blancs-Beur” (blacks, whites and Arabs). It is impossible to forget a cartoon that appeared on the front page of the newspaper Le Monde in the middle of the ’98 World Cup. A Le Pen voter asking another Le Pen voter what he thought of that team that hardly sang La Marseillaise. The Answer: “As long as they keep scoring goals” there will be no problems. That France won the final 3-0 against Brazil with two goals from Zinedine Zidane, son of Algerians. Analysts hastily stated that this champion team represented the new integrated France. However, a following election displaced Lionel Jospin’s socialist ruling party to third place and left it out of the runoff. Second place was occupied by Le Pen. Marine’s dad.

Mbappé’s Sunday press conference was covered on all portals. Because the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, after his poor result in the last European elections, decided to call early legislative elections on June 30, less than a month before the Olympic Games that will begin in Paris on July 26. There are polls that suggest a possible victory for Marine Le Pen. The possible winner that Mbappé does not want. Before Kylian, two other players from the French team also spoke out against her. They were the forwards, both black, Ousmane Dembelé and Marcus Thuram. “The situation is sad, very serious. We have to tell everyone ‘go vote, fight every day so that RN (National Rally, Le Pen’s party) does not pass.’”

Marcus is the son of Liliam Thuram, precisely one of the leaders of that champion team of ’98, born in Guadeloupe, a small archipelago of the Antilles, in the Caribbean, raised with four brothers and a mother who was a domestic worker and, like Mbappé, he is also the son of the banlieu. When in ’98 Le Pen became concerned about the color of his skin and that of many of his fellow champions, Liliam Thuram responded to the racist politician: “Personally, I am not black, I am French.”

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