France’s 4-2 victory in the 2018 World Cup Final match in Moscow gave the country its second title, giving Les Bleus the trophy and a new two-star jersey along with jubilant throngs in the streets of Paris.
There was much celebration across Africa too, as fans honored no less than 15 players of African descent in what was frequently spotlighted as a French team that represented many other nations.
Steve Mandanda was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Benjamin Mendy has Senegalese parents, while Paul Pogba’s are from Guinea. Nabil Fekir’s family is Algerian. Once all of Africa’s own teams had been eliminated with Senegal’s departure, fans backed France’s lineup – and the African presence didn’t go unnoticed as the French defeated Croatia on Sunday.
“France just won the World Cup, but so did Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria, the DRC, Mali, and Guinea and Senegal,” tweeted one media outlet. “Congratulations Africa!” wrote many well-wishers, although others were more careful in acknowledging the complicated relationship among the countries.
While most French fans celebrated peacefully, there were isolated incidents along the Champs Élysées that sparked clashes with police, who responded with tear gas. An estimated one million people poured into the capital where security was tight and police warnings of a terror attack threat loomed large.
For their part, the Croatian team that came so close was applauded at home and abroad, with an award for Luka Modric and plans for a hero’s welcome in Zagreb.