Fifa World Cup: Trevor Noah accused of racism by France fans as Daily Show host jokes ‘Africa won’ Russia 2018 final

South African comedian and Daily Show host is criticised for being ‘offensive to all French people with foreign roots’ after joking Africa, not France, won the World Cup

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 1:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 11:25am

French football fans have accused Trevor Noah of racism after the comedian joked that “Africa won the World Cup” because most of the players in France’s squad are black.

Les Bleus won their second World Cup, 20 years after their triumph on home soil, with a 4-2 victory against Croatia in last Sunday’s final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

“Africa won the World Cup,” South African Noah, host of The Daily Show, said in a segment on the US late-night television programme this week.

“I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France my friends.

“Basically, if you don’t understand, France is Africans’ backup team. Once Senegal and Nigeria got knocked out, that’s who we root for.”

Noah’s remarks came just a day before former US president Barack Obama used the example of the France team to highlight how people should look beyond race in society.

“Just ask the French football team that just won the World Cup,” Obama said during a speech honouring Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader, in Johannesburg. “Not all of those folks looked like Gauls to me. But they’re French! They’re French.”

Of France’s 23-man squad, 16 players have African heritage but only three were not born in France. Samuel Umtiti and Steve Mandanda moved to France aged two from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, respectively, and Thomas Lemar’s family migrated to France from French overseas territory Guadeloupe when he was young.

“This is alt right humour here in France,” one user wrote in response to a tweet containing a video clip of Noah’s remarks from the official Daily Show Twitter account. “This is so racist to think that because they are black they are not French.

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“They claimed their love of France. You deny them the right to be French? Is this what you want to deliver to all African-Americans also?” the user added.

Another Twitter user wrote: “This joke is very offensive to all French people with foreign roots. We fight to be considered 100 per cent French. I know you didn’t mean harm but you need to acknowledge this was a faux pas.”

“I like you dude. But maybe there is something wrong when you start to use the ‘joke’ already done by Nazis,” said another Twitter user.

French celebrities were also unimpressed.

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“So racist, you should be ashamed,” Egyptian-born French television and radio personality Nagui Fam wrote.

French comedian Kevin Razy said: “This is what racists say about our team here in France. You didn’t know, now you know.”

Former French reality television star Martin Medus said: “You’re a racist. Those people are French and p***** to always be reminded of their background.

“They fight hard to tell people they are proud French people and yet you disrespect them calling them African. Are the Lakers an African team?”

French politician Stephane Tiki, who was born in Cameroon, also weighed in. He said: “Was Barack Obama an African President? French Team win the World Cup, respect the French players!”

Following more criticism from the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, Noah defended himself on Twitter and in a “Between The Scenes” segment on The Daily Show.

“When I say they’re African, I’m not saying it as a way to exclude them from their Frenchness,” Noah wrote in a tweet. “I’m saying it to include them in my Africanness.”

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With media outlets highlighting the diverse African background among the France squad following their triumph, some of the players have insisted they are a French team.

Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy responded to a tweet which had indicated where each player’s family originated from with his own tweet containing the names of the France squad with a France flag next to each.

Every player in the France’s World Cup winning squad is a French national.

There are seven players in France’s squad who are not of African descent, all of whom were born and raised in France – other than Lucas Hernandez, who was born in Marseille but moved to Spain with his family aged four, where he now plays for Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

Florian Thauvin and Benjamin Pavard were born in Orleans and Maubeuge, France, respectively to French parents; goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris’ father is of Catalan descent; striker Olivier Giroud has two Italian grandmothers; forward Antoine Griezmann has a Portuguese mother and a German father; Raphael Varane’s father comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.

Of the 16 players of African descent, star midfielder Paul Pogba’s family originally come from Guinea, while 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe’s mother is Algerian and his father Cameroonian.

Nabil Fekir was born in Lyon to Algerian parents, with Djibril Sidibe and Ngolo Kante’s families having roots in Mali.

Presnel Kimpembe has a Congolese father and Haitian mother; Blaise Matuidi has an Angolan father and Congolese mother; Alphonse Areola has Filipino parents; Steven N’Zonzi is French Congolese; and Ousmane Dembele has a Senegalese-Mauritian mother while his father is from Mali.

Corentin Tolisso’s father is from Togo, Adil Rami’s parents are from Morocco and Benjamin Mendy’s family has roots in the Ivory Coast.