MANILA, Philippines – The joyous celebrations did not end after Bastille Day as the French Ambassador in Manila Nicolas Galey witnessed a young and diverse France national team secure the country's second FIFA World Cup title after 20 years.
After going up 2-1 at the half via an own goal from Mario Mandzukic and a VAR penalty goal by Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and World Cup 2018 Young Player awardee Kylian Mbappe sealed victory in the second half.
"This triumph, which comes 20 years after winning the championship for the first time in 1998, symbolizes the spirit, unity, and also the diversity of the French nation," said Galey in his official statement.
France's World Cup final goalscorers are part of the 18 players in France’s young 24-man roster with immigrant backgrounds.
#FRA Players from immigrant background: Umtiti Kimpembe Sidibe Mandanda Fekir Pogba Tolisso Mendy Nzonzi Rami Kante /Dembele /Mbappe Griezmann Lloris / Hernández Giroud Areola /Matuidi pic.twitter.com/vxEAEDAwB0 — 8Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) July 15, 2018
Griezmann’s father emigrated from Germany, while his mother is of Portuguese descent. Pogba was born in France to Guinean parents, and 19-year-old Mbappe is half Cameroonian and half Algierian.
Galey also heaped in praise for French-Pinoy Alphonse Areola who played as France's 3rd string goalkeeper and is the first Filipino to clinch a FIFA World Cup title.
"Today, we are reminded of the power of sports in bringing peoples and cultures together. We thank our Filipino friends who fervently cheered alongside our compatriots throughout the competition, and look forward to more occasions to share our passion for sports in the Philippines," said Galey.
Anti-immigration sentiments, especially against African migrants and Muslims, has plagued France in the past two decades, threatening national security with racial unrest and police brutality.
The World Cup win sparked calls from those online to end xenophobia and Islamophobia in the European nation.
78% of the French football team are immigrants, and 50% are Muslim. Muslim immigrants rebuilt France after the Second World War, and they've helped make France the #1 team in the world. Diversity is strength. Racism is weakness. — CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) July 15, 2018
Paul Pogba prostrating to Allah thanking the Almighty for the #Victory of #France. A European French #Muslim second generation #immigrant making the French proud and upholding the French flag Beautiful. Just beautiful, Masha Allah ! #Islam #Muslims #European pic.twitter.com/3aowve0Neq — Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri (@DrUmarAlQadri) July 15, 2018
Dear France, Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup. 80% of your team is African, cut out the racism and xenophobia. 50% of your team are Muslims, cut out the Islamophobia. Africans and Muslims delivered you a second World Cup, now deliver them justice. — Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) July 15, 2018
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.