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French athletes are stepping up to fight police violence

French athletes, long timid when it comes to public debate, have decided to break their relative silence. The video of the beating of a black man by police in Paris sparked outrage from several big names, including footballers Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé, as well as basketball player Rudy Gobert.

Read also Beating of a producer in Paris: four police suspended, an open investigation

“My France hurts”, wrote Griezmann, Thursday November 26, a tweet accompanied by the video of the media Loopsider showing a producer called “Michel” beaten up by police officers in the entrance to a music studio in the 17the district of the capital. The striker-star of the Blues mentions the account of the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, who announced the suspension of four agents after the outcry sparked by the video.

Killian Mbappé, his teammate in the jersey of the Blues, followed suit and denounced “An unbearable video” and “Unacceptable violence”, in the caption of a photo of the bloody face of the producer. The 2018 World Champion added the lyrics to a song by Diam’s titled My France To Me and concluded his post by writing: “STOP RACISM. “

These positions come as France is plunged into a heated debate on police violence and the controversial proposal for a “comprehensive security” law, which plans, among other things, to penalize the “malicious” dissemination of images of police officers and is strongly opposed by NGOs and journalists’ unions.

“Without the videos, what would have happened to Michel? We would have preferred to believe the version of the police under oath? #as usual “, writes world champion Benjamin Mendy on Twitter, accompanied by a photo of the slogan “Who protects us from the police? “ pasted on a wall.

“Against this fringe of police officers who greatly overstep their rights by beating, sometimes even killing. Our cameras are our best weapons! “, abounds the international Espoirs Jules Koundé.

“Keep filming everything!” Those who do their job well will have a good image. And cowards and liars will continue to be exposed. Whether it be one way or another “, for his part, tweeted Rudy Gobert, the star pivot of Utah.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also “The proposed law on comprehensive security arouses deep and legitimate concern on the part of the media and journalists”

A minority of committed athletes

France is regularly shaken and divided by cases of violence committed by the police, sometimes fatal, as in the cases of Cédric Chouviat, delivery man suffocated after his arrest in January 2020, or Adama Traoré, who died in 2016 in controversial circumstances after his arrest by gendarmes and erected as a symbol of police violence.

Other athletes such as French international Samuel Umtiti and NBA basketball player Evan Fournier also interfered in these debates. Their positions are all the stronger as they are rare in France, where committed athletes like Dominique Rocheteau, Lilian Thuram or Vikash Dhorasoo have always been in the minority.

American example

This movement seems to follow the trend in the United States, where taking a position on social issues is no longer taboo for athletes. American football player Colin Kaepernick, the first sports star to denounce racism and police violence in the United States, paved the way in 2016, at the cost of his sports career. Just like the very militant footballer Megan Rapinoe, whose victory at the 2019 World Cup served as a megaphone in her fight for equal pay and against Donald Trump.

In 2020, the death of George Floyd, a black family man killed during a police check in Minneapolis, brought out of their silence many sportsmen in the North American major leagues.

Read also George Floyd’s death mobilizes the sports world beyond the United States

In basketball, NBA players, leading superstar LeBron James and WNBA Championship players have rallied heavily for the Black Lives Matter movement (“Black lives matter”). Quickly joined by other baseball, football or ice hockey athletes and franchises.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Police violence in the United States: “The boycott of NBA basketball players is a turning point”

The knee on the ground, gesture symbol of this commitment, then toured the world, including among French footballers, like the Mönchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram, son of Lilian.

And, at the end of October, several figures of French football had interfered in the very sensitive debate around the caricatures of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, after the assassination of Professor Samuel Paty for showing these drawings in class. Presnel Kimpembe, Karim Benzema or Mamadou Sakho had “liked” a message on Instagram from the sulphurous Russian wrestler Khabib Nurmagomedov denouncing these caricatures.

Kimpembe then backpedaled, removing his “like” and saying on Twitter: “I play sports, not politics. I don’t speak Russian either. I strongly condemn terrorism, all forms of violence without reservation, and all nauseating attempts at manipulation. “

The World with AFP

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