Ghetto defendants: Race, class and the French National Team. | Grégory Pierrot

by Roxanne Dubois last modified 2018-06-26T07:29:32-04:00
"In France, as in most football-playing countries outside of the US, professional players tend to have more in common socially than they do racially: football is the social elevator and has been a narrow path out of the mines, the factories, the mills. Football develops particularly in industrial areas and banlieues because these are where the working class—whether native or immigrant—lives. Football is a quintessentially working class professional prospect: it is physical labor of a rare sort in that it appears to reward excellence exponentially. Competition is ruthless, the system is crass and exploitative, but it constitutes a social ladder more concrete and radical than the meritocratic fables bandied by our rulers and teachers. This is a truth as old as professional football, which tore the sport away from public school elites and put it into the feet of the working class. At some level, because anyone can and does judge on performance whether or not players ‘deserve’ their place in the sport’s elite, football seems a more honest organization than social hierarchy. The aristocrats of football earn their place there without exploiting anyone and only remain on top as long as they can maintain themselves there: though they can’t lament it out loud, this doesn’t sit well with them. Good thing they have racism to fall back on."
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