When Didier Deschamps finally revealed the roster for the French national football team on May 17th, 2018 the continent was abuzz with excitement at the fact that a large number of the 23 players participating in the FIFA World Cup originally hailed from countries all over Africa. The pool of African talent born both in France and from Francophone African countries was integral in France’s performance, leading up to their participation in the 2018 World Cup finals taking place this upcoming Sunday, June 15th.
The semifinal game was intensely watched by the whole of France and Francophones all over Africa, a testament to the diverse global reach of the French team. Although there are no African teams that remain as France and Croatia prepare for their final showdown in Moscow, the sheer number of African players takes us back to Ghana’s Black Stars in the 2010 South Africa World Cup. As the last remaining African team in the semi-finals they set the Continent alight with universal support. This Sunday will once again rally the same support as we watch to see who the new World Cup champions will be.
France is a country full of francophone African immigrants to be coming from North, West and Central Africa. In the past two decades, European football culture has produced a steady stream of talent in Europe, and by absorbing a lot of African immigrants it has developed talented African youth in large number within the multitude of the soccer academies all over Europe.
Over these years, countless world-class players have played for European and African countries through their development in these soccer academies, like gifted striker Andre Ayew. Born in France to legendary Ghanaian footballer Abedi “Pele” Ayew, he got his start at the Youth Academy of Marseille, and later represented Ghana’s Black-Stars in an incredible international career. His fellow French-born African striker Karim Benzema is another immensely talented product of French football academies. With his family originally hailing from Algeria, Benzema eventually moved onto playing for Real Madrid professionally, ultimately making the French roster for several World Cup appearances. France has no shortage of fantastic players of African descendent who hold French citizenship, with the excess of talent making it difficult to pick the creme of the crop for the World Cup stage.
Lets take a quick look the countries of origin of a just a few of the players:
- Kylian Mbappé & Samuel Umtiti (Originally form Cameroon)
- Corentin Tolisso (Originally from Togo)
- N’Golo Kanté / Djibril Sidibé & Ousmane Dembélé (Originally from Mali)
- Blaise Matuidi (Originally from Angola and Congo)
- Paul Pogba (Originally from Guinee Conakry)
- Adil Rami (Originally from Morocco)
- Benjamin Mendy (Originally from Senegal)
- Nabil Fekir (Originally from Algeria)
- Steve Mandanda / Kimpembe & Steve Nzonzi (Originally from Congo)
With the embrace that the entire French team shows to Africa (most recently shown by the viral video of team members singing and dancing to African music) this World Cup final will be full of excitement. France facing Croatia in the finals will be the end to a very interesting World Cup, and it won’t come as a surprise that France will have the full support and encouragement of Africa.