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Monday, 7 June 2010

French far-right heir hits out again at ‘unpatriotic’ team

The likely heir to the leadership of France’s far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, yesterday for the second time slammed the French squad for in her view lacking patriotic values.

Le Pen, considered favourite to take over from her father, National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, had on Thursday accused the team of having “another nationality at heart” and repeated her claims yesterday , focusing her displeasure on Franck Ribery and Nicolas Anelka.

“I think that when you are a representative of France, and notably at the World Cup, ... that should be a place where you express your patriotism,” Marine Le Pen told Canal+ television.

“I see players who are spoilt brats who have made a number of declarations ... expressing their pride in their country of origin,” Le Pen went on in allusion to the fact that many of the French squad are of either African origin or come originally from overseas departments and territories.

“I would like them to express their pride in the country which they are competing for.”

“When Monsieur Ribery appears wrapped in the Algerian flag as he did in October 2009 ...” she went on, breaking off in mid-sentence. That comment related to a picture which appeared on an internet site run by friends of Marine Le Pen, the photo having originally appeared on other sites.

Jean-Marie Le Pen caused controversy in 2006 by complaining about the number of black players in the national team – he also made similar comments in 1998 when a multi-racial French side won the World Cup on home soil.

That triumph was widely seen as providing a boost to integration of different ethnic groups in France.

Marine Le Pen had in her initial comments accused players of not singing the national anthem as well as wrapping themselves in other nations’ flags.

Yesterday, she said of Chelsea striker Anelka that “he goes off explaining how he does not want to pay taxes in France.

That comment came after an interview the player gave to a French paper last year when he said: “I would like to live in France but it’s not possible. You know why – tax levels.”

For Marine Le Pen, “this France team no longer represents France – it represents Nike, TF1 (television), the Credit Agricole (bank), (telecoms firm) SFR. It represents money.” — AFP

The Star