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“The values ​​are on the ground”

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“When the guy came into play, if I can say so, in the middle of the Portugal-Uruguay match, a little light, like a signal, lit up in my cortex. There was, however, an almost laughable side to this act of rebellion, as this king of impromptu, dressed as Superman, claimed both a defense of LGBT rights, brandishing a rainbow flag, but also the support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, and, finally, that of the Iranian women’s revolt. Three in one. Admittedly, the moment was very short, almost furtive, the applicant being very quickly mastered and removed from the cameras of the whole world. The guy, despite everything, had succeeded. It had been seen by hundreds of millions of citizens around the world.

This intrusion, basically, of a multi-cause militant, in my opinion, is not so disturbing for the competition and for the concentration of the players. Because that’s my only problem. Not one of their neurons should be entertained by considerations outside of their sport. Anticipating the debates around the choice of Qatar to organize this World Cup, in coordination with the FFF, we had chosen the solution of a donation made by the Blues to NGOs for the defense of human rights. Insufficient, because the pressure, in France, has not dropped. Some are calling on our players to do more, for example to imitate the Germans who made the gesture of gagging in a pre-match photo, in protest against the host country’s regime. At home, the former communist candidate for the presidential election, Fabien Roussel, now offers us to wear a jersey on which would be inscribed the values ​​of our country, Liberty-Equality-Fraternity. I confess to having a weakness for this man who loves meat and workers in overalls. Myself, as a player, I have always been considered a worker in the shadows, a needy, the one who wore the overalls, like a standard. I was proud of it. At the time of my splendor, there was Zidane the Artist, the Magician of the surfaces, and DD, the specialized worker who became a chess player on the grounds, an outstanding tactician to compensate for an elegance on the run. But I didn’t care. For a simple reason: it was always me who won, always me who wore this overalls that some despised. I could only be sensitive to Fabien Roussel’s speech. With my staff, we thought about an answer to give to the deputy of the North.

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And then suddenly, a flash, as if obvious. Why look for a symbol surplus to defend our values, when our tricolor jersey is precisely the symbol of the French Revolution? The blue-white-red says it all. And doesn’t our anthem itself carry the values ​​of our secular Republic, emancipatory for all? This warrior song that I have been singing at every international match for decades, isn’t it the most beautiful mark of our attachment to the freedom of all? When Youssouf Fofana, my midfielder, of Ivorian origin, born in Paris, as French as you and me, expressed his emotion when he sang the “Marseillaise” in Qatar, he gave me a big gift. So, dear Fabien Roussel, to come back to your proposal, I would say that our values ​​are already on the ground, and that the best way to carry them is to win. To achieve this, we must remove from the players any pressure, any controversy that could distract them from our objective. Make their life light, in a way.

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For the anecdote, I had read, in a daily newspaper, a controversy around the pianist, Chick Corea. The man never gave an interview to the press, not out of arrogance or disdain, but quite simply because he wanted to conserve all his energy to serve his art, and him alone. Is this artist selfish? Masterpieces are often born of this isolation, of this extreme concentration. Kylian Mbappé is criticized for not speaking to journalists. Does that mean arrogance? Of course not. Kiki is an artist on a mission, too. It’s our Chick Corea obsessed with goals, performance, miraculous gestures. Leave him in his bubble. Do not disturb…”

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