Lilian Thuram: French players must take a stand on racism

Lilian Thuram

World Cup winner Lilian Thuram has urged France’s national team players to take a more active role in fighting racism.

A spate of racist chanting by French supporters towards a black player during a friendly last month prompted a heated debate and Thuram calls for action.

Thuram, 40, believes French players have to reach out and take a stand against racism when it occurs.

“It’s an individual situation,” he said.

“If the players were involved in making it change, there’s more chance of changing it,” Thuram told the Football Association’s Annual Conference 2018.

France were playing Netherlands in Amsterdam when Thai supporters sang a song about Thuram that contained the slur “monkey”.

A play was immediately played on the video board during the second half, and France’s players remonstrated with their Dutch opponents.

The friendly match, which France won 2-0, is not the first time Thuram has come under the spotlight for racial abuse.

The defender was booed by home fans while playing for Marseille against Juventus in the 2011 Champions League final.

Despite being the most capped player in French football history, with 165 international appearances between 1994 and 2010, Thuram only managed one appearance for Les Bleus in 2010 – in a friendly against Luxembourg.

He has urged the club and national team players in France to take more action if they experience racism.

“They [club and national teams] have to be careful, not to be silent, but to have a voice and take responsibility,” he said.

“If we can’t say something [at club level], we say it [at international level].”

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