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The football World Cup as an immigration test

July 19th, 2018

Commentators on both sides of the political divide excoriate their rivals for using the most popular sporting event of the year to underpin their own stance on migration.

On hvg online, András Hont finds pro-government comments on the world cup final between multiethnic France and white Croatia despicable. In particular, he condemns a Facebook comment by Christian Democrat MEP István Hollik, who wrote that ‘an immigrant country is facing a Christian one which is proud of her national identity’. Hont argues that rather than being an immigrant country, France is a former colonial power and that is why many of its nationals are of African origin. That was inevitable once the French had colonized vast areas of Africa. Now they try to draw as many advantages from this as possible – namely, they won the World Cup. Another target of his ire is Demokrata’s András Bencsik who posted  ‘Don’t be sad, Croatia, the French would have succumbed to you’. Those players, Hont retorts, were all born in France, except two. He believes however that Bencsik is a sincere racist, unlike  Mandiner’s Gergely Szilvay who would never admit that, although he writes that most of the players of the French team were ‘sons of other peoples’. Hont thinks the real heroes of the World Cup were the Pussy Riot women who ran onto the pitch during the final and clapped hands with Mbappe, the half Cameroonian, half Algerian striker.

In Magyar Idők, Péter Szikszay finds it absurd for progressives to claim that France’s victory proves the superiority of multiethnic societies.  Even CNN celebrated it as a triumph of immigration. If that were true, he writes, Belgium, Switzerland or Germany should have also been at least in the last four. Not to mention Holland which didn’t even make it to the last 32. It is crazy to bring up a football championship as proof of the validity of a political argument, Szikszay warns. Croatian goalkeeper  Subasic was not expected by his fellow countrymen to defeat the idea of a multiethnic state but to try and catch the ball. Incidentally, the pro-government columnist adds, masses of young people of colour celebrated the victory of the united team which represented the whole of France by overturning cars and throwing stones at the police. The players sang the national anthem impeccably in the stadium, Szikszai concludes, adding that perhaps the youth in the Paris suburbs should also be taught the Marseillaise.

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