Mbappé, the goal politician | Euro Cup Germany 2024

A coach addicted to work and discipline said it proudly. Apparently, the wife of a player did not accept the long concentrations of her husband and her coach decided to talk to her. As the points of view were irreconcilable, the coach ended the talk with a question: “What do you prefer, a footballer or a man?” The woman didn’t need to think: “A man, of course.” The coach concluded the anecdote with her blunt resolution: “At the end of the season, I kicked her husband out.”

Having read Mbappé’s political statements and the controversies they provoked, it occurs to me to ask that question to the Madrid fans. “What do you prefer, a footballer or a man?”

There were several footballers who raised their voices against the advance of the extreme right, but what is said is as important as who says it. And when Mbappé, in the middle of the Euro Cup, entered the political debate inviting young people to take a stand in favor of tolerance and against racism, more than one believed that he had no right to do so.

Not so long ago, Vinicius was the victim of racist acts in different stadiums. His popularity magnified his status as a victim to the point of turning him into a symbol for the cause. Madrid protected him. In a match he sat in the box next to Florentino Pérez and the stadium made him feel his support. Now Mbappé is pulling for elevation, giving ideological support to that unpleasant situation. But there are those who understand that, as a footballer, he should not get involved in politics. If it is to protect one of our own, there is no hesitation in supporting. But if it is to defend society by raising the flag of diversity in the face of an extremism that does not admit mixing, we believe that it does not concern a footballer. Too much cause for the privileged and unenlightened people, it is often thought. We forgive them for their Ferraris, but not for them speaking for those who have no voice.

Football is the people and the players represent it. How can Mbappé not raise his voice for what concerns him and his people? What better spokesperson? Let me tell you that footballers may not be enlightened, but almost all of them are intelligent, Mbappé especially, and I didn’t know any of them. This was always a cunning game, which is the intelligence of the poor.

The incredible thing is that football has caused so much social silence for a century. That’s why Mbappé’s voice sounded so loud. We are not accustomed. We find the commitment of women footballers, or fashionable actors or actresses, admirable, but footballers seem to be a property of the fans and are not given permission to speak. I can understand it in normal situations, but these are exceptional times.

The detachment of young people from politics is a statistical truth that compromises the democratic heart of advanced societies. Not only in France. In the second most voted party in Germany there are pro-Nazi figures and declared admirers of the SS. But let’s continue without giving it importance. As long as they don’t bother us, let the party and the super happy selfies continue. If someone with political commitment appears pushing young people towards democratic responsibility by asking for their vote, it seems aberrant to us. And if he misses a goal along the way, they will even accuse him of being distracted for going where he was not called.

While waiting for footballers to become robots, the current ones, as people, have every right to say what they want. And even the duty to use the emotional power that football confers to intervene in this crucial debate.

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