Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - Page 20 News List

France celebrates victory in irreverent style

AFP, PARIS

However, L’Equipe, the sports daily, which has regularly savaged the players in recent years, acknowledged that they had come up with the goods when it mattered most. “Respect,” read its front-page headline.

France’s biggest TV station, TF1, had particular reason to celebrate. A match audience of 13.5 million viewers was the biggest for a qualifier in 20 years and the company’s shares surged 8 percent on Wednesday morning as investors breathed a sigh of relief over its acquisition of broadcasting rights for the finals.

Not everyone was celebrating. The far-right National Front, whose founder Jean-Marie le Pen has repeatedly questioned the commitment of France’s black or Arab players, put its own spin on the triumph for a squad which — like the 1998 World Cup winning team — reflect the multicultural nature of modern France.

“It is not the racialist concept of a black, white, Arab France that saved the team yesterday evening,” the National Front said in a statement. “This victory ... is neither an exploit, nor an end it itself. It is only a start towards the team’s redemption and no one has forgotten the South African fiasco.”

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