On France’s World Cup Roster, Soccer DNA Outranks National Origins

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France players pose for a team photo prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

France players pose for a team photo prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

To the French national motto liberté, égalité, fraternité you can probably go ahead and add diversité, at least as far as its soccer team is concerned.

Because at a time of rising xenophobia and an anti-immigrant backlash on both sides of the Atlantic, France has made it to Sunday’s World Cup final against Croatia with one of the most diverse and multiethnic rosters of any national team in any sport.

Sixteen of the 23 players on the team come from families that recently immigrated to France from places like Zaire, Martinique, Cameroon, Morocco, Angola, Congo or Algeria. Forward Antoine Griezmann, the team’s leading scorer, is half-German and half-Portuguese. Defender Samuel Umtiti, who scored the goal that sent France to the final, was born in Cameroon. Teenage prodigy Kylian Mbappe is part Cameroonian, part Algerian.

Even captain Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper, traces his recent roots to Spain. And France is going to need contributions from all of them against a Croatian team whose players, seared in a bloody civil war, have refused to lose in this World Cup, winning all three of their knockout-stage games in extra time or penalty kicks.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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