No laugh riot | Caribbean footballers relate to Parisian tensions

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Nicolas AnelkaFort-de-France, Martinique | On the Rue du Moulin de la Galette, on Square Van Gogh, in the Plain de Neauphle sector, in Trappes, south of Paris, Nicolas Anelka was raised. Rioting reached Trappes on Nov 3, and players on the France national side—presently on the Caribbean island of Martinique for a friendly, versus Costa Rica, to benefit family members of the 152 island victims in the Aug 16 West Caribbean Airways crash—are speaking out.

Anelka, 26, is seeking inspiration after returning to the national fold following a three-year absence and club assignments with Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City and, now, Fenerbahçe in Turkey; Anelka’s parents were raised in Martinique, colonized by France in 1635 and now an overseas dependency. Several of Anelka’s teammates are also acknowledging their Caribbean roots with the friendly, including Arsenal’s Thierry Henry, whose mother is from Martinique, and Lilian Thuram, William Gallas and Sylvain Wiltord, all with heritage in nearby Guadeloupe.

Thuram tells Reuters that the main issue in the French riots is what translates as “insecurity.” Eric Abidal of Olympique Lyonnais relates the youths’ dissatisfaction with his upbringing in La Duchere, outside Lyon:

When I was there, there was a supermarket but the guys there refused to hire people from the neighborhood. I can understand that people are fed up to see things like that.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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