When you think of France, you think of art, culture, baguettes, crepes ... and since the inaugural World Cup in 1930, you think of soccer. The French national football team, which was playing at the Stade de France when ISIS militants set off suicide bombs as part of a coordinated series of attacks Nov. 13, 2015, won the FIFA World Cup in 1998. It narrowly lost the 2006 tournament on penalty kicks, two Cups later. It has been home to some of the best players in the world, including Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini. And those players have hailed from an eclectic mix of ethnic backgrounds and former French colonies.
"The French soccer team is a symbol of France," says Julien Villain, an 18-year-old resident of Saint Denis, who was interviewed for the CBSN Originals documentary, "Les Banlieues: Seeds of Terror." "There are black people, Algerian people, African people from all over the world. All colors are represented. When they win, everyone is French. When they lose, they are all strangers."
In that, Villain argues the French soccer team is a microcosm of France as a whole. When the country does well, he says, it views all its citizens as French. When atrocities occur, on the other hand, it is a country divided. "When we lose, there is someone to blame," says Villain. "And they blame the guy or the girl who is different from the majority."