Sport may have been banned for the umpteenth time since the presidential election, but key representatives, who had been rather passive until the first round, are now raising their voices a handful of days before the election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. More than concerned at the idea of seeing the leader of the National Rally take over the Elysée at the end of the week, the sector decided to meet hastily, through a joint initiative of several leaders of federations (judo, athletics) and the Agency for Education through Sport (Apels).
In the Judo Institute, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, leaders, city officials, associations and coaches from all walks of life followed each other on the platform erected in the middle of the tatami mats to protest the ideas of the far right. , in front of an audience of about 300 personalities from the sports world. “Brotherhood”, “respect for others”, “living together” : The same terms have been hammered at will as so many values specific to the sport, unlike those advocated by the far right.
Usually taciturn when it comes to talking politics, several athletes or ex-athletes were there to encourage the undecided to block. “We are all afraid to talk about politics, me first,”agrees the ex-founder Mehdi Baala, converted director of the French athletics teams. “Surprised and sad to have to be there tonight and say ‘no to the far right'” he says he asked “Many athletes. Few are willing to speak. But we are in a situation where the fear has to be put aside.” assures Baalah. “We are lucky enough to live in France. When I was in a small suburb, at fifteen, my voice didn’t carry it. Thanks to the sport, she now wears. We all need to mobilize. We are all influenced by politics.” says the one who admits to have fear of sports, of the success of Olympic Games 2024†what he admits will be “secondary, anecdotal: we are not just talking about sports, but everyday life”.
Speech by the rugby players of Racing 92, convinced to come and testify through their teammate, the international Gaël Fickou. The recent VI Nations winner galore: even if “It’s not easy to come to places like this, to say what we feel, to position ourselves as athletes […], the situation is serious. It is five years of our lives, that must be taken into account.
“How can we be heard if we don’t say anything?”
In the ball of testimonials, several speakers warned of the potential consequences for the sports world if the RN ever came to power. “The far right is the end of the sport, it’s human sorting, it’s stigma”confirms Jean-Philippe Acensi, president of Apels, for whom such a scenario “A tragedy for sports clubs” †
Others, such as the resident of the property Larbi Benboudaoud – “the citizen, not the coach”–, praised the benefits of sports, in this case judo, “often cited as an example because with us there are no barriers, no social boundaries because all layers are represented. We’ve made sure to remove all religious and physical barriers… And it works, it works. Inevitably, when one embodies these values, one cannot accept the ideas of the far right. , whoever admits to becoming a political orator for the first time loses. Pointing to the fresco honoring the judo medalists in Tokyo, and the face of Luka Mkheidze tanned in Japan: “What were the odds of a Georgian refugee winning an Olympic medal in Tokyo?”
“Sport is a real tool for socialization, pacification”,embraces Ryadh Sallem, fifteen-time French handicapped swimming champion, plus three national titles in wheelchair basketball during his career. Yet he finds “It’s a shame we didn’t use the sport more to prevent that. We must be vigilant about the future, which we don’t just say to ourselves when Emmanuel Macron passes: “Whew, we narrowly escaped.”
Almost every time, the players in the sector remembered the absence of sport in the debates: reduced to a starving part in Emmanuel Macron’s roadmap, the theme does not even appear in Marine Le Pen’s program. “We need to make our voices heard more often” hammered the president of the Judo Federation, Stéphane Nomis, in the preamble. Sport is not apolitical. His track buddy, André Giraud, agrees: “From the moment the state entrusts us with a public service mission, yes, we do politics, he said. It is our duty as leaders to educate real citizens.”He puts a question to the meeting: “We represent 0.3% [du budget de l’Etat]† How can we be heard if we don’t speak up?
“These people are recoverable”
The evening was part of a context of strong mobilization of the sports movement in recent days against the far-right ideology. In a column published on April 12 in the Parisiansome fifty personalities from the sports world, including judoka Clarisse Agbégnénou, handball player Nikola Karabatic, ex-basketball player Tony Parker and ex-swimmer Laure Manaudou, called for a vote for the presidential candidate, refused “a far-right president. […] Being fully aware of the difficulties many French people are going through, we are convinced that voting for a party that would endanger republican values would be the worst remedy. then wrote the signatories of the text, also published on France Info.
Tuesday morning posted another forum on the site of the teamand initialed by much of the French oval, once again denounced the deadly ideology of the far right, a month after the death of former Argentina international Federico Martín Aramburú, shot dead in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the men suspected of being the perpetrators of the shots are linked to far-right movements. A chilling episode, which gathered many times Tuesday night to illustrate the ravages of the extremist ideology: “Federico wanted to stand up to an inhumane act. It is not normal for these kinds of events to take place. It’s important for us to act against that.” underlines the former international of the XV of France Yannick Nyanga, sports director of Racing 92 and signatory of the platform.
“Less pessimistic”than the others with regard to the political evolution of the country, “maybe a bit naive” the former glory of boxing Mahyar Monshipour, WBA super bantamweight world champion, estimates that the millions of fellow citizens “Those who voted for Le Pen and will vote again are not racist, xenophobic. These people are recoverable. The Frenchman isn’t that stupid, I think he’s had enough.As if the election had already been decided, and hoping to collect lost ghosts in the future, he warns: “Once President Macron is elected, the prime minister is appointed, they will have to take these votes into account. They never did.”