The Flag and Football

One particular point of interest which has stuck with me during class and throughout Soccer Empire are the strong national passions attached to the sport.  I find the presence of the French flag particularly interesting as well.  When I was 12, my family hosted a French exchange student, Clotilde, for two months.  One day, while driving through the Pennsylvania countryside with my mom and I, she asked why so many Americans hung flags outside their houses or owned flagpoles.  My mom said that displaying the flag was a way for us to display our ownership and respect for the values which the flag represented.

Clotilde responded that national sentiments surrounding the flag were not as strong as they were in the U.S., and while French citizens felt an affiliation for their national colors, the French flag was in most cases only displayed with regularity in civic institutions.  In fact, to display the flag outside a private residence would be considered very unusual.

For this reason I was very surprised to see how abundant French flags are during the World Cup.  At first I assumed that this display of patriotism must have been a nuance in French patriotism which I somehow failed to grasp.  After reading further in Soccer Empire, I have become less sure that my initial analysis is correct.  I believe that this phenomenon speaks rather to the unifying properties of soccer to bring together an entire nation than any particular French disposition to behave in a certain way.  Soccer acts simultaneously as a conduit and outlet for displays of national passion, allowing expression of individual sentiments while unifying the country.

One thought on “The Flag and Football”

  1. Juste un petit commentaire sur ce poste, qui m’a paru amusant après une expérience de mon temps à l’étranger. Ce printemps, j’ai étudié à Sciences Po à Paris, et juste avant de partir je cherchais un drapeau français. Une de mes camarades de chambre avait suggéré que chaque personne dans notre appartement apporte le drapeau du pays de ses études à l’étranger. Donc, je me suis dit, d’accord, trouver un drapeau français en France, facile ! En fait, pas du tout facile. Même aux magasins pour les touristes, je j’ai rien trouvé. Finalement, je suis tombée sur un dernier magasin. Le propriétaire m’a demandé pourquoi je voulais un drapeau, et puis m’a dit que je n’allais pas trouver un drapeau parce qu’il n’y avait pas un Coupe du Monde cette année ! Finalement, il en a trouvé un, mais m’a dit que ce drapeau faisait parti du surplus du dernier Coupe. Cette expérience soutien cette thèse que le foot peut unifier la France ; au moins, le Coupe du Monde encouragent les français qu’ils doivent acheter des drapeaux…

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