Mbappe accuses French federation boss of ignoring racist abuse

France international Kylian Mbappe on Sunday accused the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) of ignoring racist abuse after his penalty miss at Euro 2020.

Mbappe accuses French federation boss of ignoring racist abuse
The president of the French Football Federation Noel Le Graet (L) speaks with France's forward Kylian Mbappe in 2017 (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

The Paris Saint-Germain star’s decisive spot-kick against Switzerland was saved in the last-16 shootout, resulting in the world champions exiting the tournament.

The 23-year-old was vilified on social media by furious fans, and even considered quitting the national team as a result.

In an interview with a Sunday newspaper, FFF president Noel Le Graet spoke of the lack of support Mbappe had felt after the Euro elimination, but failed to mention the racist absue he had received, to the annoyance of the France striker.

Le Graet said “he (Mbappe) considered that the federation had not defended him after his missed penalty and the criticism on social media networks”.

“We saw each other for five minutes in my office,” continued Le Graet, adding the striker “no longer wanted to play in the French team – which he obviously did not think”.

On Sunday, Mbappe responded on Twitter, regretting that Le Graet had not taken into account the “racism” of which had been a victim.

“Yes finally I explained to him (Le Graet) above all that it was in relation to racism, and NOT to the penalty,” Mbappe said.

“But he considered that there had been no racism.”

Le Graet later told French radio there was “no problem” between himself and Mbappe.

“I agree with him. I understood everything and there is no problem with Kylian. I have always had a deep attachment to him.”

Le Graet had spoken last year about how the striker had “taken a knock” after the penalty miss.

“He came to the federation. He had taken a bit of a knock. The elimination had affected him, especially the articles and the comments,” Le Graet told AFP.

“My role was to show him affection, to tell him that the federation was counting on him to bounce back. It’s not a defeat that can change a career.”

As for the racist insults, “maybe it affected him”, continued Le Graet, “but it was settled very, very quickly. The proof: he is competitive at a very, very high level.”

FIFA plan to protect players

Le Graet had already come under fire last September after declaring that racism in football “does not exist or hardly exists”.

A few months before the Paris prosecutor’s office announced it was investigating racist messages towards certain French international players after the Euros.

On Saturday, FIFA published a report pointing to the increase in the number of insults against footballers on social media.

According to this study, 38 percent of them were racist in nature.

FIFA said with the World Cup in Qatar just five months away, they will work with players union FIFPRO to implement a plan on how to protect players from abuse on social media.

This will involve scanning recognised hate speech terms published to identified social media accounts, and once detected, prevent that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.

The exchange between Le Graet and Mbappe follows a period of disagreement over the image rights of players in the France team.

Mbappe and his advisors would like to review and modernise the convention that governs these rights.

Saturday, at the end of the FFF General Assembly, Le Graet insisted there would be “no change. Until the World Cup at least”.

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France is ‘more tolerant than ever’, study into racism finds

Many political headlines from France in recent months have been about the rise of the far-right, but the latest annual survey into attitudes towards race has found that ordinary French people are more tolerant than ever.

France is 'more tolerant than ever', study into racism finds

An estimated 1.2 million people a year are victims of a racist attack in France, but there are less than 1,000 convictions annually for racially motivated crimes, a report has revealed.

“We can see that the institutions are failing to take account of real crime,” Magali Lafourcade, Secretary General of the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’Homme (CNCDH), which published the annual study, said.

Moreover, researchers found that only a small proportion of victims file complaints, for a variety of reasons, notably shame, fear of reprisals, or distrust in the police. 

It is a vicious circle that Lafourcade hopes to combat: “If there are many complaints, many criminal proceedings and many convictions, we can hope that the phenomenon will decrease.”

Despite those figures, France as a nation is more tolerant than ever, the study found.

Since 2008, the CNCDH has been calculating society’s tolerance towards minorities, using a “tolerance index”. In 2022, France scored 68 points on a scale of 100, its highest rating – indicating that racist behaviours and opinions are less tolerated.

“Tolerance has never been so high in our country,” Lafourcade said.

But, the report found that not all ethnic minority groups in France are treated equally. A total 38 percent of French people still consider Islam to be “a threat to France’s identity” – a figure down from 44.7 percent in 2019.

The Roma community is the least tolerated minority group in France, with 45 percent of French people (down from 48.2 percent in 2019) convinced many in the Roma community live off the proceeds of crime. 

The CNCDH has drawn up a list of 12 priority recommendations to reduce racial discrimination in France, advocating education as its main weapon in the ongoing fight against racism.

Measures include better training for school staff and education for digital citizenship, which is seen as “an essential element in the fight against online hate”.

The Commission also recommends human and financial investment by the government and a commitment to “change the way people look at and practice their lives in relation to Roma populations”, and increasing the use of online complaint mechanisms.

The CNCDH has published a report on racism and racial tolerance in France every year since 2008. Its in-depth 2022 study is available as a pdf here.