Farewell France & South Africa

By | June 22, 2010

Well, that was exhausting. I don’t think I’ve ever been so conflicted. The traditional fan in me was rooting for France, the romantic for South Africa, and I really didn’t want Mexico eliminated either. So much hope for South Africa for a sliver of time, after they had scored the two goals and Uruguay 1. And then Henry and Malouda, the team that should have been playing for France from the very beginning of the tournament, came on. At which point I tweeted “Into the valley of death rides Henry.” But, a few minutes later, Liz Hottel got it right: “ARSENAL SUPERPOWERS ACTIVATE.”

The French left with a tiny shred of dignity, while South Africa can at least celebrate an inspiring victory, as well as perhaps a bit of relief at not having to face Argentina.

The scenes at the end of that game among the players were sad, even moving. They had all participated in some kind of ritual immolation of the hopes of two teams, and two nations. But perhaps the most remarkable thing of all was seeing Domenech literally falling apart. The guy has barely shown any emotion for years as he’s ruined the French team, but today it seemed like it all suddenly came bearing down on him.

But the most exhausting, maddening thing of all, is this: I’m already thinking to myself — hey, in 2014 France might be ok, right? Malouda, Clichy played well today, Blanc can bring Benzema and Nasri back. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to another very complicated morning tomorrow watching the second French team, Algeria, will be facing the U.S.

Category: France South Africa World Cup

About Laurent Dubois

I am Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University. A specialist on the history and culture of France and the Caribbean, notably Haiti, I am the author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in the Fall of 2009 as part of a Duke University course called "World Cup and World Politics," whose students helped me develop the site.

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