The long-awaited second star on France’s jersey has finally been earned and bestowed. The World Cup honour has left the nation in a state of unadulterated joy, with the French people in euphoria but most importantly united. Just like the team that has won the World cup. A perfect feeling of symbiosis between the team and its people.
It’s also no secret that the French national team has always been deeply linked to French society, culture and politics. At times it can be the representation of a diverse and harmonious society working hard to reach the greatest of heights. And for better or worse, politics has always found a way into the conversation.
French president Emmanuel Macron is a fervent Marseille and French national team fan, and has already met with Les Bleus on multiple occasions leading up to the tournament. On Sunday, he made the rounds on the internet with his passion and fervour for the team, as exemplified by the amazing picture of him getting up from his stand with his fists in the air during the final.
On Monday, he hosted the French national team at The Elysée palace following their 4-2 win against Croatia, as has been tradition with the French national team after making finals (World Cup 1998, Euro 2000, World Cup 2006, Euro 2016).
After the game, French president Emmanuel Macron joined the World Cup winners in the dressing room to congratulate them and remind them how proud they made their country. To show them that, Macron invited French Chief warrant officer Cabrita, and spoke about what France’s victory meant for people just like this soldier.
“You gave France hope and Chief warrant officer Cabrita is an example of that. He was reported as dead in Mali because he was fighting for the country. He was saved, but he lost an arm and leg, and was harmed everywhere. I met him in June, and the only thing we see is his smile,” Macron said.
“As is tradition, the president always spends the national holiday with the military, so I saw him again on July 13th. He was in a wheelchair. He told me the person who he admired the most was Didier Deschamps, which hurt a bit in the beginning (laughter from the dressing room).”
“And he (Cabrita) said, “I have one favour to ask you for… When you see the players after the final, tell them that they made an average French person like me dream. That’s why I invited him today. Because I wanted you to see the impact you guys have.” As Macron finished his speech, a wave of applause and cheers of “La République” broke out in homage to Cabrita during which Deschamps embraced the French soldier.
For the French people, the players who comprise the national team are the country’s heroes. But it’s important to never forget the heroes defending their country in other ways and in much different conditions.