Trevor Noah defends ‘Africa won' World Cup joke after French ambassador’s backlash
“Yes. Yes. Africa won the World Cup! Africa won the World Cup!” the South African comedian said on the ‘Daily Show’ last week. “I get it, they have to say it’s the French team, but look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the South of France, my friends.”
TONIGHT: Congratulations to Africa on winning the 2018 Men’s World Cup! pic.twitter.com/ly1wxU1VzT— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 17, 2018
French Ambassador Gerard Araud wrote a letter to Noah in response, saying his joke about France’s team being African was “denying their Frenchness,” and “legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness as the only definition of being French.”
Noah read parts of the letter on his show, some of it in a French accent, and took issue with Araud’s claim that the team reflected France’s diversity. Noah said he was sorry to say that it was more to do with France’s colonialism than its diversity.
Araud also took a swipe at the US in his letter, saying that unlike the States, “France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion or origin. To us there is no hyphenated identity.”
Noah said Africans around the world celebrated the number of “Africans” playing in the World Cup, saying, “Look at these Africans who can become French,” which he explained was “a celebration of that achievement.”
Noah wondered, “Why can’t they be both?” despite the fact that his original joke implied the players were African instead of French. He went on to claim the French ambassador was arguing that you can’t be both French and African, as in order to be French, you have to erase everything that is African.
End of the argument with @Trevornoah He didn’t refer to a double identity. He said »they are African. They couldn’t get this suntan in the south of France ». i.e They can’t be French because they are black. The argument of the white supremacist.— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) July 19, 2018
A number of sports stars have voiced their displeasure at being called African and not French.
🇫🇷❤️🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/sP3IZzpTob— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) July 17, 2018
🇫🇷 Pogba— Benjamin Mendy ⭐️⭐️ (@benmendy23) July 17, 2018
Noah’s joke and subsequent explanation sparked debate on social media. Some commenters, such as French athletes, sided with the French ambassador, even accusing Noah of being racist, while others defended Noah’s joke for being good natured and questioned why black American athletes aren’t referred to as African teams.
The players should be Proud of their African roots and never forget where they come from. But they are where they were born, raised and educated, they are French and Les Bleus won the World Cup. Simple.— Benoit Andreani (@bandreani) July 19, 2018
First, It’d be very difficult for him to be racist, knowing they share the same race.— Sabrina M (@Sabri_Mah) July 17, 2018
2nd, it’s not a reminder, it’s a part of who they are.
3rd, we’d say of some of the Lakers’ players that they are “African” American.
Et pour finir, there isn’t any hate behind what he says.
Was the DreamTeam in 1992 an African Team ? Was Dwane Wade or Hakeem Olajuwon Africans Players of Team Usa when they won the Olympics Games? Was Barack Obama an African Président ? French Team win the World cup, respect the French players ! pic.twitter.com/BPINb0t58T— Stéphane Tiki (@stephanetiki) July 18, 2018
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