Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Your daily World Cup update

... and proving that just because Team USA is out, we still care.

Hey, who's up for another deep socio-political soccer discussion?

Out: Our great French teams are a testament to the diversity of the suburban ghettos.

In: Our crappy French teams area a testament to the diversity of the suburban ghettos.

Criticizing the situation in France's ghettoes is a delicate tap dance, because focusing on the criminal and other negative aspects plaguing those areas inevitably circles back to the people living in the largely immigrant and heavily Muslim areas.

So, intentions aside, the current attacks against the team can "encourage prejudice," and "liberate racist speech," said the general director of the advocacy group SOS Racism, Guillaume Ayne.

Politicians have fervently joined in the harangues, in particular questioning team members' disobedience, and the decision by some on the squad not to sing France's national anthem, "La Marseillaise."

On French radio, philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said the players represent the "spirit of the cité," a term used for ghettoized housing projects, which he said are "devouring" French society.

Problems afflicting the projects include high crime, poor education and a failure to integrate immigrant youths into French culture.

Les Bleus are "a terrible mirror" of French society, said Finkielkraut on Europe 1 radio.

"Nobody has said anything openly racist, yet," said sociologist Jacques Tarnero, who studies racism. However, the risk of tipping into xenophobia comes up when the French team is associated with the problems of the French ghettoes. It could confuse the public, he said.

We're trying to think of a parallel situation over here involving international sport and are having a difficult time of it. Guess the closest thing we can come up with is basketball where between the Dream Team of the 1992 Olympics and the gold medal-winning team of '08, we experienced some uncharacteristic difficulties which owed more to not being equipped or adept at the international style of hoops than anything else.

In fact, you internationalists out there would be pleased to know that American cultural hegemony has completely failed in global basketball and now the NBA with its reliance on ball-handling, passing and (drive, draw and dish for) 3-pointers and de-emphasizing the low-post game, resembles the international game more than it ever has.

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