Has France gone daft? 10 days after its shambles of a national football team shuffled out of the World Cup and we’ve got a public inquiry into the “fiasco”. Today, a parliamentary “Commission des affaires culturelles et de l'éducation” led by Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot held an in-camera hearing with French coach Raymond Domenech to determine why Les Bleus are so, well, rubbish.
I would have thought that you didn't need an inquiry to twig the fact that the petty, vindictive Domenech, who had the arrogance not to select the brilliant Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri (note - these are Arab names) was simply a rubbish coach who had even failed to earn his squad's respect. But apparently the nation needed to hear something else. But didn't. Hot off the press from Le Parisien, it seems that “the MPs were visibly disappointed”. “I didn’t understand why Raymond Domenech didn’t shake the South Africa coach’s hand,” whined Jean-François Copé of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement. “I learned nothing,” despaired his colleague Renaud Muselier. “But it is our role to conduct hearings with those responsible in football when the image of France is tarnished.” Meanwhile, Madame Bachelot, who obviously hasn’t punted a ball around with her foot for any length of time, is still doing her nut in about Les Bleu’s “mediocre intellectual baggage”.
Can the image of France ever recover? Should we have more left-brainers like hack philosopher Alain Finkielkraut (who calls the team “hooligans with the morals of the mafia”) showing off dribble skills instead of drivel? And what are politicos doing sticking their noses into the beautiful game? Typically the left-wing commentariat detects a conspiracy - this is a deliberate diversion from more “serious” issues like pension cuts, unemployment etc… (insert drone of vuvuzelas here).
Personally, I wonder if it’s not a French state desperate to look relevant, which is why it leaps at anything it thinks can rally public opinion. A few months ago it was the saddo minority taste that is the burqa, this week it’s a game that might get your adrenalin up for 90 minutes, but at the end of which leaves you back in exactly the same world you left when you switched on your telly. More relevant might be to haul Bachelot, Copé et al before a commission and ask them why keep running about in circles, making shrill about others, kicking the ball wide, diving in pseudo agony, when there’s a country to run.