This Wednesday, as part of the World Cup, Tunisia finds France. In the stands, Tunisian supporters should whistle "La Marseillaise". Should we pay attention to it?
October 2008. France meets Tunisia in a friendly match. Whistles then accompany the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise”. The French president at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, did not want to ignore the event, calling the incident “scandalous”. Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot then made the decision that, from now on, "any match where our national anthem will be whistled will be immediately stopped" and that all friendly matches with the country concerned would be suspended. In France, these whistles had launched a debate on immigration from the Maghreb, seven years later a very tense France-Algeria match which had caused a lot of ink to flow and a year after Moroccan supporters had also whistled "La Marseillaise".
Next Wednesday, the French team finds the Eagles of Carthage, this time with a stake: the Tunisians must absolutely win to hope to be able to qualify for the round of XNUMX of the World Cup, while the Blues are already sure of participate. With a question running through your mind: will the French anthem be whistled again?
A trademark "made in Tunisia"
There is a good chance of hearing Tunisian supporters whistle "La Marseillaise". It has almost become a trademark for the supporters of the Carthage Eagles who, for several matches, have been booing the national anthems of countries with which they have no history.
Last September, during a friendly match against Brazil, a controversy erupted: the Brazilian anthem was whistled, while racist acts punctuated the meeting. The Tunisian Football Federation then underlined the "exemplary" attitude of Tunisian supporters, asking for an investigation to prove that the racist acts had been uttered by fans of the Eagles of Carthage and ignoring the whistles during the Brazilian anthem.
Against Denmark, the Tunisian supporters were also criticized for whistling at the time of the anthems.
Tunisian fans whistling the Danish anthem...
— BeFootball (@_BeFootball) November 22st
Pressures and rivalries
Acts which, it must be remembered, are quite isolated: if Tunisian supporters whistle the anthems of the opponents, this is not the case for all the fans.
And, for all that, should this be seen as a real problem? Then president of the European Football Union (UEFA), Michel Platini, indicated in 2008: "I do not see in the whistles (…) a lack of respect or an insult (…) but simply demonstrations against an opponent of one night ". The ex-international deplores the political recovery of whistles against anthems: “Thirty years ago, when I played with the France team, 'La Marseillaise' was whistled on all grounds. But at the time, politicians weren't interested in football and that didn't shock anyone.
No doubt, however, that whistles against "La Marseillaise" on Wednesday will provoke a new political debate in France, where the far right, among others, will surely take over this match. And once again, the French media will agitate the difficult relationship between France and the Maghreb, while "it is all the opponents of the Eagles of Carthage who were entitled to the same preferential treatment", assures Aïda Touhiri, journalist at Franceinfo.
It will therefore be worth remembering that, in 2007, Italian fans also whistled “La Marseillaise” at the San Siro stadium. Or that, in 2005, Israeli fans did the same. In 2005, Swiss and Turkish supporters whistled their respective anthems.
For William Nuytens, a sociologist specializing in the behavior of supporters, “the stadium is one of the few places where you can still demonstrate publicly”. Not enough to whip a cat then. However, another question arises from this problem. Sepp Blatter, former president of the International Football Federation (Fifa), wondered a few years ago "if it still makes sense to play the national anthems", while "when an exacerbated nationalism is added to the passion and with emotion, it becomes explosive”.