“Thirty years ago, when I played with the France team, the Marseillaise was whistled at every venue.
Yeah! Take that! We were even more unpopular! Hon hon hon!
As someone who does not exactly show full reverance to the ballad of the “land of the free,” I guess I’m glad that I won’t be attending sports matches in France any time soon.
“Any match at which our national anthem is whistled at will be immediately stopped,” said [French Sports Minister] Roselyne Bachelot.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the booing was “insulting” and that in the event of a repeat it would be necessary “to call off matches”.
“It’s insulting for France, it’s insulting for the players of the French team, it should not be tolerated,” he added.
You know what else is insulting? Colonialism.
The Beninese soccer team, having already advanced to the final round of African qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, sure has its priorities straight.
The nickname of the Benin national team, Les Écureuils, translates into English as “The Squirrels” – and now the country’s sports ministry has decided it simply is not fearsome enough.
Instead sports minister Ganiou Soglo has suggested a more intimidatory name – the “Emerging Panthers”.
It goes without saying, of course, that a sports team’s nickname is not generally correlative with that team’s success — or even its fearsomeness. Rather, the compulsion to brandish an intimidating name seems to stem from some abstract sense of manliness — the idea that a team that mauls, attacks, and kills is stronger than one that, say, scurries and climbs trees.
The Beninese may want to consider a different tactic, though. Consider that one recent winner of hockey’s Stanley Cup was called the “Ducks” (no longer even of the “Mighty” variety) — an animal that doesn’t exactly cause one to scramble out of the pond. Or that the two last European World Cup champions are known as les Bleus and gli Azzurri — which both translate as the incredibly fear-inducing nickname of…”the Blues.”
(Image from flickr user clarapeix using a Creative Commons license)