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our latest little Napoleon can't stand having to deal with people not under his command

There's another example of this with the Rugby World Cup. On Friday evening, Sarko was of course present for the opening, France being the host country.

French TV rights to the Cup were bought by TF1, the number one commercial TV in France, owned by Sarko's personal buddy Martin Bouygues, and totally devoted to the president's cause. Before the match, Sarko was interviewed by TF1 honcho Charles Villeneuve with widely-noticed smarm and lickspittle. Then the head of state was shown at his place in the grandstand, ready to cash in on the glory and the surge of national feeling that would accompany a good French performance.

Meanwhile... The French players, it is now known, were subjected to a very special preparation programme during the day. Instead of being left to follow their usual stress-management patterns, they were called up for rather emotional rituals: a jersey-awarding ceremony for the players who weren't on the match list, and above all the reading of the eve-of-execution letter by young French Resistance fighter Guy Môquet (that Sarkozy instrumentalised during the campaign by rubbing a tear or some dust out of his eye during its reading at a memorial ceremony). The letter apparently moved the players to near-tears (not as cynical as certain politicians, perhaps), as they were put on the spot to perform for the honour and glory of the nation. The result, according to some, including former French internationals, put too much emotional pressure on the players just when they needed to evacuate stress.

So out come the players and play dreadfully, uncharacteristically badly, seeming incapable of doing anything right or collecting their spirits.

During the game, the producer cut in shots of well-known people in the grandstand. But not Sarkozy. One may be forgiven for thinking that, if the French had played well, TF1 would have treated us to shots of the smiling president applauding at each exploit. But by some sixth sense the producer knew better than to associate Sarko with such a disaster.

Finally, a leaked video of which I saw a bit last night on Canal + (I haven't been able to find a copy on Internet), shows Sarko in the dressing-room tearing a strip off the players and assorted officials. Present with the players were Bernard Lapasset, president of the French Rugby Federation, Jo Maso, French team manager, and Bernard Laporte, coach and about-to-become Sarkozyst Sports Minister. Sarkozy's tone was stinging, brutal, and belittling. The players looked gutted, as well they might. It looked to me as if Lapasset turned away in anger as if to hold back from arguing with Sarko. (That was my impression, I may be wrong).

I think Napoleon said he won his victories with his soldiers' dreams. Sarkozy looks set to turn dreams into nightmares. It might not take too long before the French wake up.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 09:24:51 AM EST
I had heard none of this. On France-Info, they have a new, horribly shrill chronicler just before the 8am news, which is supposed to take a décalé look at things - and all she commented upon was that (beyond the fact that Sarkozy was there, as usual, but said more admiringly than wearily) Fillon was invisible but Royal had an horribly green jacket.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 09:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My sources: watching the match on TF1 myself, so saw Villeneuve's horror show. (One of the questions was: This is the first worldwide sporting event of your presidential mandate. Do you wish to send out a worldwide message?) I didn't immediately realize they weren't cutting to Sarko during the match, it came to me later.

The special preparation has been commented on here and there. See the first commentary in L'Equipe by Laurent Bénézech, former international, and this  article from Le Monde.

The video of Sarko's dressing-down was on Michel Denisot's show last night on Canal +. I only saw the end of the sequence. Present on the set was Sylvain Marconnet, absent from the French team because of injury. His reaction was to say that, in the state of dismay the players were in, the president's words would surely go straight to his team-mates' hearts. Said with a tight little smile.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 12:12:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Holy hell, I didn't see any of this. Reckon it'll show up in Marianne when it gets here, but I had no idea.

What a fucktwit.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 11:15:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd love to see that with a translation.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 12:38:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It will make it to youtube eventually.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 12:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
some days I'm just impatient.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 02:35:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading a young anti-nazi resistant's last letter to the French rugby team before a match is beyond bad taste.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 05:47:39 PM EST
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... before a Rugby 13 match than a Rugby 15 match, given the way that Rugby 15 took advantage of the war to take over Rugby 13 facilities (given the more working class, especially coal miner, background of Rugby 13 and hence suspect loyalties of Rugby 13).

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 08:24:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't know about this. Do you mean in France? Can you say more about it, point to some sources?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 12th, 2007 at 02:13:11 AM EST
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Here you go afew...


and from wikipedia


Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Wed Sep 12th, 2007 at 04:01:02 AM EST
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Thanks. I knew Union and League were not good friends (euphemism), but I had never come across that Vichy link.

The odd thing to me, living in French rugbyland, is that it's distinctly working-class/plain folks whether it's 13 or 15. Much less social difference than between Union and League in Britain, certainly.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 12th, 2007 at 05:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I reckon the social distinction in England was originally in the players ... amateur status was always less appealing to a coal miner or mill worker.

I had thought the social distinction in the stands for Rugby Union football evolved more with respect to Association football ... as in the old aphorism that (association) Football is a game watched by thugs and played by gentlemen, and Rugby Union is the opposite.

Mind you, Australia inherited the class distinctions between the two Rugby codes of football, with Rugby Union better supported in the big end of town and Rugby League better supported in the little end of town ... at least in Sydney and Brisbane.

OTOH, the class distinction in Australian Rules, in the "southern half" of the country, is more in terms of where you are sitting in the stands, like the NFL in the US.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 12th, 2007 at 10:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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