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Should expats support France at the World Cup?

It's question many of us expats grapple with every time there’s an international football tournament. Here The Local ponders how much loyalty we should show to the tricolor and we also take to the streets of Paris with Parisian News TV to hear the views of other expats.

Should expats support France at the World Cup?
French fans celebrate on the Champs Elysees after a football match. Would France-based expats be likely to join them if they win the World Cup in Brazil? Photo: AFP

How French do you feel and how much loyalty do you feel towards your adopted nation?

It may be hard to give a clear answer to those questions, but our true feelings towards "La Belle France" and the Tricolor are often revealed whenever a World Cup comes around.

Given that we live in the country, pay our taxes here, have French friends, even partners and possibly kids, surely it would seem strange not to want Les Bleus to do well at the World Cup in Brazil.

And if they did the unexpected and repeated the stunning success of 1998, wouldn't we join in the party on the Champs-Elysées, without feeling like gatecrashers?

However many expats, especially hardened English ones, would probably rather lock themselves in the pub toilet than join in any Gallic celebrations –  no matter how long they have spent enjoying life in France with French friends and families.

The reality is that in sport, whether its rugby or football, France and England are sworn enemies and for many of the English based in France, that’s all that matters.

Step into any expat pub when France are playing and you’ll normally find a few rowdy English expats unashamedly cheering on the opposition whole-heartedly.

These are the hard-core non-convertibles, who may well wax lyrical about life in France to their mates back home but will never, ever bring themselves to cheer for the famous blue jersey.

But not everyone is like that. Some foreigners living in France will feel integrated enough to proudly cheer on Didier Deschamps and his team in Brazil this summer, unless perhaps, they are playing against their home country.

This probably applies to those from the United States and Australia, whose true feelings have not been tainted by the sporting enmity with France over the years.

And then there's the others, who include the editor of this website.

We will be quite happy to see France do well in the World Cup, win a couple of games, beat the Germans if possible, perhaps even the 'Argies', but not quite go all the way and win it.

A glorious French victory would of course only provoke the inevitable and completely immature and selfish feelings of intense jealousy and bitterness especially given that England probably limped out on penalties once again. Plus France have already won it recently, surely that's enough.

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FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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